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CONTENTS SUMMER 2017 Series 1 / Issue 3


2017 DISCOVERY Desert shakedown of the fifth-generation Discovery 35 EVOLUTION

FIFTY YEARS OF THE ROVER V8 How an American engine became a British icon 40 PERSONA

WILL HEDRICK The man who stood up to the government to save Defenders




ESCAPE TO BAJA A weekend of surfing and camping on Mexico’s peninsula 54 CLASSIC

1958 SERIES II ROVIN’ ROVER An intrepid explorer and the places it has been 62 BUILT

1996 TREK DISCOVERY #4 A veteran competition truck gets a second chance 69 SERIES GUIDE

DEFENDER 110 & 90 NAS 1993-1997


A guide to the North American Spec Defender







Allow us to get philosophical

Products for a life of adventure

Breaking down complex matters







Land Rover world news

Land Rover fans around the planet

A look at what’s in our garages







North American club reports

Build your mastery on the trail

History told through vintage ads

North America’s Independent Land Rover Magazine

SUMMER 2017 Series 1 / Issue 3

Publisher Bryan Joslin

Creative Director Daniel Marcello

Editor in Chief Stephen Hoare

Art Director Christopher Holewski

Copy Editor Greg N. Brown

Contributors Nicholas Bratton Chris Brinlee, Jr.

Contact Alloy+Grit Magazine PO Box 5043 New Britain, PA 18901

Photographers Andrew Ling Jonathan Heisler Nicholas Bratton Tom Blizzard Greg Balkin Herb Zipkin

Cover Photo Daniel Marcello

This magazine is enhanced with Augmented Reality

We encourage responsible off-highway driving

Use your mobile device to unlock additional content whenever you see this logo. Simply download the free AURASMA app from your app store, subscribe to the official Alloy+Grit channel (AlloyandGrit), and scan the tagged images throughout the magazine to access exclusive features like videos, photo galleries, sound clips and more.

Maintaining access to natural areas by vehicle requires cooperation between drivers and landowners. Please respect natural resources and wildlife by driving on existing trails, moderating speed on loose surfaces, being mindful of the environment when crossing water, and leaving behind no litter or waste.

Proudly printed in the United States by

Alloy+Grit is a trademark of Alloy Publishing Group, Inc. All rights reserved. Reproductions in whole or in part without written consent is prohibited. Alloy+Grit is a wholly owned subsidiary of Alloy Publishing Group, Inc.


WHO DOESN’T LOVE A DEFENDER? One truth I’ve discovered on this journey is that Land Rover means different things to different folks. Another maxim is that the universal icon for the brand isn’t the green oval badge but instead is the Defender. The last true descendant of the Wilks Brothers’ original concept, it’s a direct connection to the company’s early days—for better or worse. If you’ve ever spent time in a Defender, you know it’s a deeply imperfect vehicle by modern standards. Cramped, loud and slow, it offers, despite its name, little defense against the elements—seriously, drive one in the winter and you’ll discover the extremes of its own microclimates. However, think of the Defender as a really nice tractor rather than a “sport” utility vehicle from a premium carmaker, and it begins to make sense. What it lacks in polish it makes up for in capability, on road or off—okay, mostly where there’s no road, which is why it’s recognizable in even the remotest parts of the planet, and why most of the world regards the Defender in the same way Americans might view a Ford F150, as a working dog, a hardscrabble tool for life’s tough chores. Americans, however, have a more complicated relationship with the Defender. Even though it may be loved and respected across the globe, we here place it on a pedestal, elevating it to a superstar status generally absent outside of the USA. In fact, we’ll commit acts of dubious legality, even spend unholy sums, for the privilege of owning one. But, why?

Scarcity undoubtedly plays a factor in our worship of the Defender. Over the course of half a decade, Land Rover managed to move just 7,000 Defenders in North America, and most days they didn’t exactly fly out the door. But shortage of numbers alone doesn’t explain our peculiar Defender fetish. After all, now that they’ve become legal to own as personal imports, there are more Defenders coming into the States these days than when they were new. (Technically speaking, most are actually Land Rover 90s and 110s, since the Defender name wasn’t applied until 1991). “Charm” is perhaps the best one-word explanation for our fascination. The Defender speaks to us on a basic human level. It’s simple, honest and approachable. It’s a truly classless vehicle in that it remains both desirable and reasonably attainable by all classes and social strata. The Defender is equally at home hauling relief to disaster-ridden Third World communities as it is delivering the grandkids to the Carousel for ice cream on the Vineyard. For most American enthusiasts, it is a lifestyle decision rather than an occupational necessity, making it something of an inverse status symbol, at once telegraphing a mixed message of encoded privilege and attempted humility. Few vehicles can pull that off so honestly. Our appreciation for the Defender only seems to grow stronger as time marches on. It’s been seven years since Land Rover first confirmed that the original Defender would eventually come to an end (as it did in January


“...most of the world regards the Defender in the same way Americans might view a Ford F150, as a working dog, a hardscrabble tool for life’s tough chores.” 2016) and that an entirely new generation of modern Defender would emerge (as is expected next year). We don’t yet know what the future holds for the Defender, but we suspect the past will always be kind to it. Throughout this issue, we shine light on the Defender mystique. Our Series Guide looks at the unusual run of North American-spec (NAS) D110 and D90 models. For those interested in importing a Defender, we sit down with Will Hedrick, one of the notable figures in the Land Rover scene—and hero to one group of owners who nearly lost their personally imported Defenders to the hands of the government. Plus, celebrate with us the 50th anniversary of the ubiquitous Rover V-8. Enjoy Alloy+Grit number three!

THE BRIT Steve Hoare

A DISTANT RELATIVE IS STILL FAMILY Seventy years ago this summer, the Wilks brothers were scratching in the sand at Red Wharf Beach in Wales, working out the details on what would eventually become the original Land Rover. Its development cycle was necessarily short, both to meet a market need for a “go anywhere” utility vehicle as well as to raise urgently needed post-war export revenue. The first crude production models went down the line in Solihull less than a year later. A star was born. Before this summer is out, Land Rover will have released its latest creation, the Range Rover Velar. It’s certainly a handsome vehicle, even in pictures, something that can’t always be said of new models these days. And while the company will tell you it’s still building the most capable “go anywhere” vehicles on the planet, the Velar seems a far sight removed from anything the Wilks ever would have conceived. To be fair, like any other thriving automotive concern, Land Rover is producing vehicles driven more by today’s market demands than by historical references. Further homogeneity is result of the multitude of government regulations from around the world. Packed with technology on par with its good looks, the Velar ticks off a lot of boxes for a lot of potential buyers. Honestly, how many SUV shoppers today would be content with a vehicle

where a heater or a passenger-side windshield wiper were considered optional extras, even if it could drive itself to the top of Mt. Everest in low-first at idle? Not me. Don’t get me wrong, I still love my Series One, but I much prefer the luxurious cocoon of a fullsized Range Rover on most days, comforted by the fact my nether regions will be electrically warmed and the windshield will clear itself of the morning frost— no impromptu credit-card scraper required. Nevertheless, I can’t help but look back fondly on those early times, when instead of touting the vehicle’s ability to reach highway speed in barely a handful of seconds, the emphasis was on where the vehicle could take you. Eventually. I recall as well the “happy” days of motoring when I had to kick the bulkhead to coax the electric fuel pump into action. Or when the rear canvas would flap open and suck in road spray, giving me a cold neck and dampening the inside of the windscreen, after which the round Smith’s heater would scream into action and deliver the occasional suggestion of warmth. There was an upside, though. With no GPS and only a 10-gallon fuel tank, I’d often stop to refuel and drop into a local pub for directions, where a warm-up by the fire, a pint of beer, and ham and eggs and chips made Series One


“Land Rover is producing vehicles driven more by today’s market demands than historical references.” ownership much more palatable! I do miss those days, but I also relish and enjoy driving my Defender 110 with its mind-boggling array of built-in luxuries: air conditioning, heated seats, electric windows, and even a radio that I can occasionally hear over the roar of wind and the hum of tires and gears. Even all those amenities, though, can’t hide the fact the Defender feels a bit of a relic compared to the current Land Rover lineup. I often hear that Land Rover’s current offerings have gotten too posh or gone too soft. Okay, some of them, sure. Certainly the Range Rovers, which have always been the refined expression of the brand. It seems to be working, though, as the company is selling more vehicles now than at any other time in its history. Whether or not it’s obvious, Land Rover is still building its vehicles for the adventurous soul.



2018 Range Rover Velar on sale in August and we have no doubt it soon will fill the driveways and porte cochéres of America’s toniest neighborhoods.

Land Rover managed the nearly impossible by surprising the world with an allnew Range Rover model a week before the Geneva Motor Show. At a celebritystudded private party in London, the new Range Rover Velar was revealed to the world, not in concept form, but as a fully hatched production model ready for sale in mere months. Debuting late this summer as a 2018 model, the Velar is the fourth distinct model in the Range Rover lineup, squeezing between the compact Evoque and the notquite-full-size Sport. The Velar shares architecture with its corporate cousin the Jaguar F-Pace, which itself borrows from the Range Rover Sport parts catalog underneath. This means a longitudinal drivetrain (unlike the Evoque) and the option of a supercharged V6 engine.

The Velar signals an even greater emphasis on the Range Rover sub-brand’s move further upscale. Whether or not that resonates with traditional Range Rover buyers remains to be seen (though we suspect it will). Regardless, the Velar is an undeniably attractive vehicle, perhaps even more so than the Jaguar with which it shares hardware. Its flush door handles and nearly button-free touch-screen instrument panels are a clean break from tradition, while the interior’s use of wool-blend textiles and suede-like cloth made from recycled plastic bottles suggests a focus on buyers not necessarily hung up on the ubiquitous wood and leather ambience of past models.

While it cribs signature design cues from bigger Range Rovers, the Velar makes no pretense about being an off-road vehicle. There will be no two-speed transfer case, not even an off-road dress-up package. This one is meant for the streets,

The Velar, which shares its name with the first road-going Range Rover prototypes of nearly fifty years ago, will go on sale in late summer as a 2018 model with a base price starting at $49,995. 8


Closed course. Professional drivers and drivers operating vehicles under supervision. Do not attempt.

Get behind the wheel of our latest vehicles at a Land Rover Experience Center. Head off-road with an expert instructor who will coach you in skills to tackle the most challenging terrain - from steep inclines and descents to slippery slopes and water crossings.* Whether novice or seasoned pro, you’ll quickly build confidence, refine techniques, and have fun along the way. To find out more go to or call one of our Centers at these breathtaking locations.


Asheville, NC 1.828.225.1541

QUAIL LODGE & GOLF CLUB Carmel, CA 1.831.620.8854


Manchester Village, VT 1.802.362.0687

European model shown. 2017 Discovery HSE. *All attendees are required to sign a release and attendees who wish to operate a vehicle at the Experience Center must have a valid driver’s license. Group and Team Building Experiences available. Payment is charged at time of booking. Applicable taxes may apply. © 2017 Jaguar Land Rover North America, LLC

Put your off road skills to the test. Visit one of our Centers to participate in an off road trial course for an opportunity to win a spot on a 2017 expedition to Peru. Call one of our Centers for details or visit



For years, Carlisle, Pennsylvania, has played host to countless car enthusiast shows. The Carlisle Import & Performance Nationals has long been an East Coast favorite for owners of obscure European makes like Saab, Citroën, and even Opel, as well as the more traditional enthusiast brands from England, Italy, and Germany. To celebrate the thirtieth anniversary of the Range Rover in North America, Alloy+Grit joined up with the Carlisle team to bring a fleet of Land Rovers to the 2017 show held in late May. All told, around 20 Land Rovers of various vintages, as well as numerous Land Rover enthusiasts, showed up for the Saturday portion of this three-day event, highlighted by the cutting of a huge Range Rover10

themed birthday cake decorated with images curated from Alloy+Grit’s own Instagram page. According to many long-time Carlisle attendees, this was the largest gathering of Land Rovers the show had seen in many years, with people bringing vehicles from Virginia, Maryland, New York and New Jersey as well as Pennsylvania. Given the show’s eclectic nature and its relatively close proximity to Alloy+Grit’s home base, talks are already under way to make next year’s Land Rover contingent even bigger, with the possibility of an off-road course being added before next year’s event. Mark your calendars now: 2018 Carlisle Import & Performance Nationals, May 18-20.


BACK FROM OVERLAND EXPO Of all the activities associated with Land Rovers over the years, expedition travel certainly ranks high on the list. These days it goes by the term “overlanding,” and it’s become something of a lifestyle movement of its own. Countless magazines and blogs have emerged in the last decade to make self-contained vehicle travel a “thing.” We traveled to Flagstaff, Arizona, in May for Overland Expo, the annual gathering of all things overland. More than 15,000 people are reported to have passed through the gates over the course of the three-day event to check out the latest travel gear and specialty vehicles from more than 250 vendors. With everything from first aid kits to all-terrain motorhomes, the array of products being produced (for what is essentially still car camping) is staggering. Not everyone comes for the gear, though. Some attend specifically for training and advice on overland travel, particularly to less hospitable terrains and locales throughout the world. Where else can you step out of your LR4 and get off-road driving instruction from a bona fide Camel Trophy winner? While the overall crowd and product count were measurably impressive, the number of Land Rovers (and Land Rover-specific products) was negligible. Toyotas and Jeeps dominated the scene, along with everything from Subarus to Mercedes Sprinter vans. In fact, we probably saw more BMW GS motorcycles than Land Rovers on the grounds. Land Rover North America was on hand to run the offroad driving course complete with instructors. They also kicked off the first leg of a new driving competition, the Land Rover Experience Tour Peru 2017, with drivers piloting a new Discovery through a scored trials course for a chance to win a six-day driving adventure through Peru this fall. We’ll be in Asheville, North Carolina, from September 29 to October 1, 2017, for Overland Expo East, the smaller but growing East Coast version of the show. 11


Social & Driving Events A selection of upcoming Land Rover enthusiast events in North America. June 16-18, 2017

July 27-30, 2017

September 15-17, 2017

Return to the Rubicon

Muddy Chef

British Invasion

Georgetown, California

Manchester, Vermont

Stowe, VT

June 23-25, 2017

August 10-13, 2017

September 16, 2017

33 OVLR Birthday Party

Mid-Atlantic Overland Festival

Telegraph Canyon Trail Run

Silver Lake, Ontario

Huntingdon, PA

Phoenix, Arizona

July 14-16, 2017

August 11-13, 2017

September 28 – October 1, 2017

Rovers on the Blue Ridge

White Rock Lake Meteor Shower Trip

Vermont Overland Rally rd

Capon Ridge, WV

Facebook – Rovers on the Blue Ridge July 24-28, 2017

Truckee, California

Reading, VT September 29 – October 1, 2017

2017 Land Rover National Rally

September 10, 2017

Leadville, CO

Palatine, IL

The Muddy Chef Challenge is one of the summer’s unique Land Rover events, merging off-road driving with competitive cooking. The cooking challenge is vehicle-based—participants can only cook from the foods and materials they brought in their Land Rover—and divided into three categories: appetizer, main course and dessert. Competitors

must participate in at least two of the events to be eligible for prizes, and are encouraged to pair their offerings with an appropriate cocktail or beverage. If cooking isn’t your thing, there’s always the off-road trail rides, falconry, shooting, and fly fishing. An added twist is that the actual campsite location will remain a secret until you arrive in Manchester,

British Car Festival

Overland Expo East Asheville, NC


where you’ll be sent on an off-road adventure to find the campground. The event, which has been a fixture on the calendar since 2008, has been held in past years at Lime Rock Park in Connecticut. This year it moves to Manchester, Vermont, nearby Land Rover’s driving school based at the Equinox Resort.


The w orld i s w a it in g.

G et o u t f i t t e d . G e t t r a i n e d . G e t i n s p i r e d . G e t g o i n g . . .




M A Y 1 2 - 14, 2 0 1 7 F L A G S T A F F , A Z, USA

Expert driving instruction course built by Land Rover RawHyde Adventures and BMW-sponsored riding courses 180+ different skills classes & seminars for 4WD & motorcycle adventuring, from first aid to outdoor cooking to advanced recovery, riding, and driving—400 session-hours taught by the world’s overlanding experts 250+ exhibitors, including authors & filmmakers Local food, the Overland Film Festival, & more Day passes or Overland Experience packages Onsite camping

Free daycare for Overland Experience Book online

Featuring a new venue in Flagstaff!


Photo top: Into Bolivia by Alison DeLapp ( Photo, inset: Alu-Cab camp (



Everything’s bigger in Texas, including the Rover events. This year’s South Central Area Rover Rally (SCARR) was the biggest yet, with 240 participants in 125 vehicles taking part in an extended weekend of wheeling and camping. The event was held April 19-23 at Barnwell Mountain Recreation Area in Gilmer, TX. This event truly featured a little something for everyone. In addition to the expected group trail rides, there was also the all-women Barbara Toy Tribute run with 19 vehicles. Bill Burke was on hand offering offroad instruction. The kids weren’t left either, with a movie night and daytime activities. End-of-day happenings included live music and campfires. Texas Rovers did an excellent job of rounding up big-name sponsors as well, with many participants walking away with generous prizes. 15



The weekend of April 14-16 saw the Rover Owners Association of Virginia’s 5th Annual Rovers At Wintergreen (RAW) event. Hosted at the Wintergreen Ski Resort in Nellysford, VA, it is normally held just after the end of the traditional ski season. The club has re-opened several miles of old logging tracks and made new and exciting trails on the lower half of the mountain. This year saw over 60 different Land Rovers and over 100 attendees. Land Rover Richmond brought along a brand-new diesel Discovery for club members to look over. They also ran it down a few of the easier lanes to show that it still has an off-road spirit. The weekend was capped off with a club dinner with presentations, stories, and a raffle. 16



The Pennsylvania-based ROVERS Club held its annual spring trials in the woods outside Reading on April 29-30. The grounds on the private mountainside property were loose, making the course tough to climb. It was a weekend of winching, as countless drivers found themselves repositioning the property’s large boulders. More than a dozen rigs, as varied as a Series III Lightweight and an LR4, maneuvered between the canes in the traditional trialing event, while dozens more came to watch, learn, camp and socialize.


Only in its fourth year, the 30A Sand Rover Rally is already proving to be a popular event with Land Rover enthusiasts in the Florida/Georgia/Alabama area. The combination of a great location (South Walton, FL) and laid-back atmosphere made for a great weekend the whole family can enjoy. April 8 was the date for this year’s event, with trail rides through the 25,000-acre Point Washington State Forest kicking off in the morning. What the trails lacked in hills and rocks they made up for with sand and mud. The culmination of the event was the Land Rover show on the lawn of the Gulf Place Hotel, where everyone got a chance to kick back and hang out together while a live band played. 17


Definitive Defender We all suspect the new Defender will (finally) begin to surface in the coming months. We point to the announcement of Icon, the official Series and Defender history in book form, as proof that Land Rover is laying the marketing groundwork for the new model launch. The only “approved” book about the Defender, Icon will be released in July, though pre-orders are being taken now through Land Rover’s online store. The 200-page book will be hardbound and will sell for £50 (U.S. pricing has not been announced). The book opens with a foreword from TV personality and notable Land Rover enthusiast Richard Hammond.

£50 at



Alone Against the North By Adam Shoalts It’s hard to believe there are still areas of the world virtually unseen by the eyes of man or woman, especially in North America, but the upper half of the continent is vast and mostly unpopulated. Alone Against the North is the story of modern-day exploration into this unspoiled territory. Often portrayed as the “Indiana Jones of the North,” Adam Shoalts has long been obsessed with mapping thousands of miles of undocumented wilderness in the Canadian north. His latest book, partly funded by the Canadian Royal Geographical Society, chronicles his adventures while mapping rivers around remote parts of Hudson Bay. Full disclosure: The book contains no specific references to Land Rovers. But it is full of the kind of self-reliant, backcountry adventure that calls out to Land Rover enthusiasts, whom we suspect will enjoy the author’s trials and tribulations, including navigating mosquito-infested bogs and being stalked by bears while dragging a canoe.

$20 at Published by Penguin Books

Magnetic Wristband Life with older Land Rovers eventually means quality time with wrenches, whether doing a simple oil change or a complete engine swap. Sometimes these are unscheduled appointments with your Land Rover standing knee deep in grass, sand or mud. Either way, losing vital hardware is never fun. This simple magnetic wristband is an easy addition to your tool kit. With ten separate magnets encased in the nylon band, it’s a great way to keep small hardware and tools quite literally at hand. It’s also a convenient hands-free way to pick up those bits that fall out of your hands in the process of removing or installing them; just wave the wristband over the work area and the metallic objects will be picked up. Clever users may also wrap it around a used oil filter before spinning it off. The wristband magnets will help hold and retain any micro-metallic particles suspended in the engine oil. Every toolbox should have one. Clinging to the outside of the box, naturally.

$13 at



Ben’s Wipes Time on the trails usually means time with nature’s nuisances, but there are effective methods to fight mosquitoes and ticks in particular, which transmit such nasty viruses or diseases as Zika, West Nile, Lyme, Malaria, Rocky Mountain Spotted and Eastern Equine Encephalitis. Spraying bug repellant on clothes and skin is the old standby, but that method doesn’t always guarantee protection exactly where you need it. Another defensive approach is with Ben’s Wipes, individually packaged towelettes infused with a waterbased repellant containing 30-percent DEET. Replace the spray with a simple wipe across exposed skin or clothing for an even application of repellant able to last up to 8 hours. Available in boxes of 12 single-application packets, they fit nicely in the glove box, center console, first aid or recovery kit. At around six bucks a box, they’re inexpensive protection for any outdoor adventure north of the Antarctic.

$6 per box at

Watertight First Aid Most European countries require drivers to carry an in-car first aid kit. Mandatory or not, it’s always a good idea to be prepared for mishaps, on the road or off. A basic first aid kit for off-road adventures should include remedies for headache, open wounds, insect stings, snakebites, and burns. Adventure Medical Kits makes this simple, ultra-light first aid kit that is an ideal ride-along to your other emergency gear. Inside the easy-to-spot nylon pouch are two waterproof bags that contain enough medical supplies for a typical outing of one to four people for up to four days. The contents include the expected assortment of adhesive bandages, gauze pads, tape, antibiotic ointment, antiseptic wipes, gloves, after-bite wipes and a variety of pain relief tablets. There are also stainless steel tweezers for removing embedded material and a small syringe for flushing cuts or extracting venom.

$39 at 21


DemerBox Portable Boombox Series Land Rovers and Defenders are a great way to disappear from the sights and sounds of civilization, as long as you’re willing to put up with a metallic symphony of squeaks, rattles, bangs, gear whine and tire hum getting there. Playing a traditional stereo to drown out the noise will probably be fruitless, especially if there’s no such system in the vehicle. Enter the Demerbox, designed by James Demer, who was looking for a quality Bluetooth/wireless boom box to use on remote photo/video shoots. Starting with a familiar piece of kit—the ubiquitous Pelican case—he installed a set of Bluetooth-enabled weatherproof speakers, resulting in a portable, all-weather boom box. The Pelican case offers portability and rugged construction, and it’s sealed against water, dirt, and dust. A subwoofer opening adds richness to the sound and can be capped when conditions call for it. The remaining space inside the Pelican case can be used to store valuables, keeping your cell phone, tablet, GPS, and other small necessities safely in one place. Compatible with both Mac and PC, the Demerbox is fitted with a USB port for charging other devices, and it also includes a 3.5mm auxiliary port as an alternative music input. Once charged, the Demerbox is ready to go for approximately 40 hours, long enough for most short-haul weekend expeditions.

$399 at

Expedition Blend Coffee For many of us, getting an on-time start to a full day of adventure requires supplemental stimulation. The most popular way to perk up is with a strong cup of coffee. We know there are countless options when it comes to choosing a morning brew, but few of them also combine our passion for Land Rovers. Enter Toltec Coffee, the work of Niall Johnson, who cruises Costa Rica in his Series II 88” to check in on the harvest and roasting of his beloved coffee beans. The name pays homage to the Toltec civilization, an artisan culture—the name literally means “skilled worker who creates something by hand “— indigenous to Central America between the tenth and twelfth centuries. Roasted in “micro-lot” quantities of 100-percent Costa Rican export-grade Arabica beans, the resulting Expedition Blend is a labor of love that honors the Toltec traditions. Land Rover and coffee...a blend that always provides a welcome jolt.

From $30 per 2lbs at



Ultimate Camp Kitchen On the scale from “roughing it” to “glamping,” the Austrian-made Camp Champ gourmet camp kitchen tips toward the far edge of the latter. Designed for the well-equipped traveler who has the means and the cargo space to bring his home kitchen on the road, the Camp Champ features everything but the kitchen sink. The storage cabinet is made of marine-grade plywood with stainless steel hardware. Every bit of internal space accommodates the cooking and serving needs for a group of four—plates, bowls, flatware, glasses and cups. The cookware includes a variety of nesting pans, a strainer and cook utensils, as well as a cutting board. A full spice cabinet is built into one of the doors, meaning you don’t have to suffer bland food just because you’re in the woods. The Camp Champ includes premium components from renowned makers such as stainless steel cutlery from Carl Mertens and kitchen knives from J. A. Henckles. The folding four-burner propane stove is from American company Partner Steel, and the cooktop griddle comes from Swiss Diamond. The camp kitchen stores inside its own cover, which doubles as a ground platform, and it’s also made of the same marine plywood. Because consideration was given to weight reduction— melamine plates, acrylic drinkware, and panel lightening by drilling large holes—the whole kit, at 143 pounds, weighs less than it would appear, though it’s still a two-person job to move. Imported exclusively by OK4WD, the Camp Champ is an exquisite piece of craftsmanship worthy of heirloom status. But before your kids start fighting over it when you’re gone, it’s also probably the finest way to cook a fantastic meal on the go, wherever the road may take you.

$5,595 at

Rover Truck Oatmeal Stout There are probably better reasons to choose a beer than what’s on the label. But how can you resist the opportunity to decorate your next party with these choice cans, which feature the image of a truck very closely resembling a Range Rover Sport? The beer is brewed in the small town of Decorah in northeast Iowa by Toppling Goliath Brewing Company. If you’re an oatmeal stout kind of person, you’ll like the hints of coffee and chocolate, and it’s also a change of pace from the bevy of IPAs everyone’s drinking. Alcohol content is 5.7 percent by volume, and it’s only sold in four-packs of 12-ounce cans. The kicker? Distribution is limited to the Iowa/ Illinois/Wisconsin/Minnesota corner of the upper Midwest. Depending on where you live, however, online retailers like may be able to ship you a pack.

$8 per 4-pack at or


Hand made prints of classic cars & trucks

Global Lens Daniel Marcello Owning a Land Rover isn’t always easy, especially if you go it alone. But because our vehicles and (their owners) are so unique, ownership often opens the door to membership. A good Land Rover club not only provides a support system to make the ownership experience more satisfying, but the best ones also offer a sense of purpose. One such club is Australia’s Land Rover Owners’ Club of Victoria, or LROCV.

accessories, and has a test track where members of the public can experience a short trip in a member’s vehicle on a course ranging from easy to hard grade. Over the years hundreds of trips have been arranged, some short, some long. The first recorded official two-day overland trip was in October of 1964, covering some 420 miles roundtrip, 70 of which were in the Victorian Dividing Ranges. Members have been to all corners of Australia, including Cape York, Tasmania, Simpson Desert, Canning Stock Route and many other seldom visited places.

LROCV is the oldest established four-wheel-drive club in Australia. Founded in September of 1963, it was chartered as an overseas branch of the Land Rover Owners’ Club of England. Since then, independent branches have been formed in every state of Australia. The Victorian club has an active roster of over 700 members, with almost 800 vehicles in the club register. The club’s well-attended monthly business meetings include portfolio reports, trip reports, and a guest speaker; visitors are always welcomed.

LROCV trains drivers new to four-wheel drive in order to get them to become more aware of their and their vehicle’s capabilities off-road, as well as intermediate training in recovery techniques and driving on differing road conditions. The club maintains a comprehensive technical library and has specialist equipment available for members to borrow or rent for trips and events, including satellite phones.

Since 1971, The Land Rover Owners’ Club of Australia, Victorian Branch, has assisted in running the Red Cross Murray Marathon as part of its community service work, helping with land patrol and medical evacuation. The club also participates in the Yarra Marathon, the Mini Marathon, Venturer Scouts’ Armstrong 500, Oxfam Christmas tree deliveries, as well as many other local community activities.

LROCV serves as a model club for the Land Rover enthusiast community. Likeminded people with a sense of adventure, a desire to travel, and the ability to turn a wrench when needed are what make owning a Land Rover unlike anything else. I don’t care for cars and coffee meet ups. Too many glossy cars sitting in a parking lot begging to be used properly. So I encourage you to join a Land Rover club. You won’t see us gathered at your local coffee shop, as we will more than likely be on some adventure using our vehicles for what they were intended for.

The Club has a large volunteer force of members who provide assistance in the clean-ups following natural disasters such as fires and floods. Many thousands of volunteer hours are donated each year, particularly in recent years as disastrous bush fires have periodically ravaged parts of the state of Victoria.

For more information on LROCV visit them online at and check them out on Instagram @LROCV

For the past 38 years, the club has held the Victorian 4WD Show, probably the world’s first outdoor four-wheel-drive show. The event showcases off-road equipment and







2017 DISCOVERY Still every bit a Discovery, even if you’re not convinced it looks the part WORDS Bryan Joslin PHOTOGRAPHY Land Rover


he Discovery’s initial mission—to blend the most practical aspects of Land Rover’s utility vehicles (think Series and Defender) with a level of refinement found in the Range Rover—birthed a line of family SUV that not only faithfully delivered on that charter but has endured, quite successfully, through four generations over the course of nearly three decades. But now this new, fifth-generation of Discovery is set to face off against an unprecedented number of competitors, each vying to supersede Land Rover’s hard-earned reputation for delivering family-friendly functionality. Does it still have that perfect blend of unalloyed grit (pardon the pun) to go with the polished alloys we’ve come to expect from the marque? History suggests a resounding yes, primarily because of Land Rover’s continued response to the rapid evolution of the Discovery’s market segment. Originally conceived to do battle with dominant competitors from Japan like the Mitsubishi Montero, Toyota 4Runner, and Nissan Pathfinder, the first-generation Discovery excelled against its rivals in refinement and appointments while matching their abilities off-road. By the second generation, the Germans had gentrified the neighborhood with new entrants from BMW (X5) and Mercedes-Benz (ML Class). The Discovery II had no trouble outperforming these new challengers in terms of utility and rugged skills off-road, but its liveaxle chassis and body-on-frame construction

proved no match against the on-road finesse of the Autobahners. The third generation (LR3) answered those concerns boldly with a four-corner independent suspension and the introduction of Terrain Response, which raised the technological bar for all-road chassis control. The following LR4 added more layers of refinement, more luxury features, more technology…in other words, more more in the need to keep pace with its peers, all of which had become far more sophisticated. Throughout all its iterations the Discovery has been a rugged yet refined utility vehicle for adventurous families. Perhaps as importantly, it also has been an aspirational vehicle that suggests empty roads and far horizons are just a turn of the key away. Alloy+Grit drove the new Discovery to find out if it delivers on these promises.

SKIN DEEP Before getting to the nuts and bolts, let’s try to wrap our eyes around that element of the Discovery that has everyone talking, the design. From its inception, the Discovery has worn distinctive body panels. Some were, well, charmingly funky (polarizing, others might have said). Either way, nothing else has ever really looked like a Disco. Until now. Viewed in isolation and without context, the new Discovery is an absolutely beautiful piece of mechanical sculpture: a muscular form with balanced proportions, clean surfaces, and tidy 29

detailing that offers a less-is-more elegance in a marketplace filled with overwrought swage lines and heavily scalloped panels. But, it’s also a case of more-is-less: To some eyes it looks just too similar to the rest of the current Land Rover lineup, particularly from the front. To follow further this critical line of thought, we agree there’s not a lot of distinctive Discovery-ness left in it. On one hand, it’s like a chunk of quartz that’s been swept along the bed of a roaring river, its unique, jagged surfaces polished and smoothed, leaving just a hint of its original form. On the other hand, it’s like a chunk of carbon that’s been carved by an expert jeweler, its new form displaying a brilliant elegance that only broadens its appeal. To understand this critique, it helps to know what defined that first-generation Discovery. It was an entirely new expression of Land Rover’s spirit when it first emerged as a family vehicle positioned between the rugged Defender and the luxurious Range Rover. Its tall, stepped roof addressed old complaints about headroom in those other two vehicles, paying tribute as well to the Defender’s iconic safari roof, right down to the alpine windows. And the asymmetry of the rear window’s baseline was functional, shaped to conform to the edges of the spare tire mounted on the side-swinging cargo door. These details helped establish the Discovery’s identity and were carried through the first two generations. The third-generation Discovery (LR3)


“Similar styling quirks are to be found on the new Discovery, but they’ve been finely edited and now serve as little more than design hints at the model’s history without rehashing it.” created a shockwave on arrival. Traditionalists simply detested its industrial minimalism. The step in the roof was less prominent, and the alpine windows were reinterpreted, made integral to a larger glass roof panel. The spare tire was moved to a location underneath the vehicle, but the designers playfully retained the rear door’s signature asymmetrical window line (though the drop moved to the opposite side), using it as the break point for the new split tailgate. Eventually the hysteria subsided, and loyalists accepted the design that was carried through two generations. Similar styling quirks are to be found on the new Discovery, but they’ve been finely edited

and now serve as little more than design hints at the model’s history without rehashing it. It’s clearly a Discovery for a new era, and we have no doubt even the most ardent critics will come to appreciate it once they’ve stood next to one. More importantly to Land Rover, this less polarizing new Discovery should appeal to shoppers who would have never considered the brand.

BENEATH THE SURFACE That slick body is shedding more than just visual baggage, however. By switching to a full unibody chassis (abandoning the corpulent integrated body/frame platform) and pressing 30

almost all of it out of aluminum, the new Discovery casts aside more than 800 pounds compared to its predecessor, even when new features are factored in. The body shell alone is a full thousand pounds lighter. Where the outgoing model’s gait was cumbersome, the new Discovery immediately feels fleet of foot and more responsive to inputs from throttle, brakes and steering wheel whether in the 340-hp supercharged V6 or the 254-hp turbodiesel V6. There has never been a Discovery so quick to react with so little prodding. But, this is a Land Rover, and just as important is its lithe and balanced demeanor off the pavement, especially on inclines. No


longer a listing ship, it fairly seethes with a sure-footed confidence that only comes from being unburdened by excess mass. One look at the slippery shape of the new Discovery tells you it wasn’t sketched in the Solihull brick factory but was fashioned with significant aid from the wind tunnel. While there is still a dominant verticality to the front of the truck, it’s not as blunt as it used to be. And everywhere you look are small details that manage the flow of air over the body, such as the vertical slits in the front bumper that direct the stream over the front wheels. Even the stepped roofline was kept low to minimize frontal area. The payoff is a big drop in drag coefficient from 0.40 to 0.35. The benefits of such a dramatic weight reduction and sleek shape suggests improved fuel economy, but it didn’t quite work out that way—at least with the supercharged V6. While the outgoing LR4 with that engine managed an EPA rating of 15 mpg city and 19 mpg highway, the new model using the blown V6 eeks out a barely better 16/21 in the government’s estimation. Your fuel mileage may vary.

NUTS AND BOLTS But if fuel economy is what you’re after, Land Rover will now (finally) sell you a Discovery with an efficient diesel engine. It’s the same 3.0-liter V6 found in the Range Rover and Range Rover Sport but is the first such option ever offered to American buyers in a Discovery. Quiet and refined, it offers a more acceptable 21/26-mpg figure at a modest $2,000 premium over the gas engine. With 442 lb-ft of torque on tap, it should be popular with buyers who tow or haul other heavy loads, and certainly those with long commutes. The supercharged V6 gas engine has a slight performance advantage, but neither engine is a slouch. An eight-speed automatic is the only transmission option, and as with later LR4s, the hi/lo transfer case is part of a “capability” package. The Terrain Response System manages traction electronically, locking and unlocking differentials based on the surface conditions. Terrain Response II is optional, adding automatic program selection to its list of talents and ensuring that driving in changing conditions is a carefree affair. Traditionalists may find comfort that a coil spring suspension is still standard, though we suspect most will leave dealers riding on the

optional four-corner air suspension, especially as it’s standard on the higher-spec HSE models. Nevertheless, it exists. The air springs give the Disco up to 11.1 inches of ground clearance and allow it to ford up to 35.4 inches of water should the need arise. On the road, the proven setup delivers a tranquil ride on par with its more expensive Range Rover stablemates. Our drive through the dry desert landscape of southeast Utah never challenged its wading credentials but did provide a sense of how well the new Discovery will play on rocks and sand. With its independent suspension, it can’t always keep all four tires in contact with the ground over extremely uneven surfaces, but as long as it triangulates, the truck will remain stable, and its electronic traction kit will almost always pull it through. In fact, as long as just one corner has traction, the system will continue to feed power only to that wheel, making it possible, in most cases, to continue forward. All Terrain Progress Control acts like a low-speed cruise control, allowing you to set a pace in off-road conditions and maintain that speed, adjusting for such changes in terrain as large obstacles and even water. A stint at Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park proved how well the combination of advanced traction control and ample power can motivate the nearly 5000-pound vehicle through even the deepest, softest sand. With the tires aired down for maximum contact, the Discovery made easy work of the windswept landscape. On steeper climbs where power and momentum both matter, the supercharged gas V6 showed an edge over the diesel, better able to add power as momentum diminished. Regardless of engine choice, the new Discovery actually outdoes its predecessors when it comes to towing, besting the previous model’s 7,716-pound rating by another 285 pounds. A trailer hitch with integrated wiring is a stand-alone option. All of our test vehicles were equipped with the 21-inch alloys that come standard on the HSE Lux models, but it’s worth noting that Land Rover fits wheels as small as 19 inches in diameter on the base model. As the brake package is identical regardless of the trim level—14.2-inch front rotors and 13.8-inch rears—off-road enthusiasts should have no problem stepping back to a 19-inch wheel package for a bit of extra sidewall on the trails.


ADVENTURE READY Where the new Discovery really excels is neither on-road or off—it’s inside. The standard configuration remains the two-row five-passenger setup, but most will probably hit the road as seven-seaters. The third row, accessible by folding forward any of the three second-row seats, has been designed specifically to accommodate an adult up to about 6 ft 2 in., situating the seat bottom (like those of the second-row seats) quite low, so the space is better suited to longer torsos than legs. Nevertheless, the third row is far from a penalty box. Adding to the Disco’s configurability is a new powered-seat option. Any of the five rear seats can be lowered or raised at the push of a switch, either in the rear compartment or at the seating position. This can all be done from your smartphone through an app, allowing you to pre-arrange the cargo space before you arrive with your payload. Someone in the interior design group has obviously spent time on holiday with a pack of post-millennial kids, as there’s accommodation for virtually all the stuff today’s electronicallyassisted progeny expect to have on hand at all times. There are multiple USB power supplies in every row so no one has to fight for one. Storage spots are also generous throughout. The hidden bin behind the fold-down infotainment screen is a clever touch, perfect for stashing sunglasses or a phone. By eliminating the old-style mechanical gear selector in favor of the rotary knob, the center console is a virtual hidden cave—slide the cupholder component out of the way, and you have a deep storage compartment capable of swallowing four iPads. Other thoughtful touches include door panels sculpted deeply enough to accommodate a one-liter water bottle (even the fat Nalgene bottles). If there’s a drawback to the new body shape, it comes in the form of reduced cargo space. Overall interior volume is down by almost 10 percent compared to the LR4. Much of that appears to be sacrificed behind the third row, where the rounded shape of the rear tailgate and its thick pillars conspire to steal precious cubic feet. While the shape is less boxy, Land Rover has broadened the rear opening to accommodate wider cargo. While we’ll miss the split tailgate of the LR3/LR4, Land Rover insists the new overhead




hatch makes it easier to reach into the cargo space while offering more protection from the elements when tailgating. To facilitate that activity, an 11-inch-wide folding platform drops down at the push of a button, providing a clean, dry surface on which to sit.

REFINED BUT NOT PRECIOUS From inside especially, the new Discovery feels like a true continuation of the model’s history. Each generational change has brought new levels of luxury and refinement, and the fifth generation continues to plot that graph. The cabin is by far the best example yet of blending functional elements with quality trimmings in a way that feels luxurious but not too precious for more rugged pursuits than cooking burgers in a stadium parking lot. Even optioned with the perforated leather seating and open-pore wood trim, it never feels like a place you wouldn’t let your kids in with muddy boots. The Discovery exudes an air of quality in every touchable surface. Doors open and close with a solid thunk we’ve come to expect more from the Germans than the Brits. The panel gaps are undoubtedly the tightest to travel the Solihull assembly line. There is precision in every component, down to the jeweled headlight assemblies. Every detail reflects a master’s intent. All of this comes together on the road, where the vehicle feels drum tight and precise in a way past Discoverys never quite managed. The cabin is virtually silent at highway speeds, the air moving over the bodywork undetected. Road noise as well is hushed, and even the roughest of pavement transitions goes unnoticed. It all adds up to a new benchmark for quality in the Discovery legacy, even at its $49,990 base price. It packs a lot of the Range Rover Sport’s appeal for a lot less money, even fully loaded in the mid $70k range. Land Rover purposely chose a revolutionary design for this new Discovery. It signals not so much a new direction for the model but rather an attention to the needs and wants of today’s buyers. It is a Discovery for the modern age; it recognizes its heritage but is entirely comfortable with its new attitude. We see no reason why it won’t continue to be the most interesting choice for adventurous families.

2017 DISCOVERY SPECIFICATIONS Dimensions and Capacities

V6 Supercharged

V6 Turbodiesel

Wheelbase (in.)



Overall Length (in.)



Overall Height (in.)



Overall Width (in.)



Front Track (in.)



Rear Track (in.)







Curb Weight (lbs.)



Turning Circle (ft.)



Approach Angle (deg)



Body Type Contruction

Breakover Angle (deg)



Departure Angle (deg)



Ground Clearance (in.)



Max Wading Depth (in.)





V6 Supercharged Gasoline

V6 Turbo Diesel

Std. Tire Size Engine Type Displacement (cc)






Valves/Cylinder Power (hp@rpm) Torque (lb-ft@rpm)







EPA Economy (Cty/Hwy)



Fuel Capacity (Gal)



AdBlue Capacity (Pint)



Towing Capacity (lbs.)



Transmission Type



Hi/Lo, eCDL

Hi/Lo, eCDL

Short/Long Arm, Twin Lower Links,

Short/Long Arm, Twin Lower Links,

Coil or Air Springs

Coil or Air Springs

Transfer Case Suspension Front Rear

Integral Link,

Integral Link,

Coil or Air Springs

Coil or Air Springs

Brakes Type

4-wheel disc

4-wheel disc




Interior Seating Capacity

5 or 7

5 or 7

Cargo Space Behind Second Row (cu. ft.)



Cargo Space Behind First Row (cu. ft.)




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FIFTY YEARS OF THE ROVER V8 The Rover V8: Lightweight, compact, powerful. And ubiquitous. WORDS Bryan Joslin PHOTOS Staff

It powered what seemed like every British performance car for the better part of three decades—MG, Morgan, Triumph, TVR, and Rover alike—but it’s perhaps best known as the gutsy soul of so many Land Rover vehicles. Front and center at the Range Rover’s conception, it would go on to power the Series III Stage I, the Defender, the first two generations of Discovery, and the second generation of the Range Rover. This year marks the fiftieth anniversary since its arrival under British bonnets, though its birth certificate bears the stars and stripes. Before it grew a stiff upper lip and rumbled Brummies across the world, the Rover V8 was a scrappy Detroiter known as the Buick 215. Developed by General Motors in the late ’50s, the compact all-aluminum powerhouse was also employed by Oldsmobile and Pontiac for three short model years before issues with oil and coolant seals—please remember this before cursing British engineering—collided with high production costs and forced the General to sideline it for a more conventional cast-iron design. Seizing on GM’s regressive move, Rover managing director William Martin-Hurst negotiated late in 1964 to purchase outright both the design and tooling, foreseeing the need for more powerful engine options for an expanding British car industry. He also hired away Joe Turlay, Buick’s engine designer, to act as an engineering consultant in the transfer from American to British manufacture. Finally, in 1967, and after a handful of minor design details and process modifications were introduced, the first English version of the V8 made its way into a production Rover P5 sedan.

By this time, work on the concept that would become the Range Rover was under way, and development director Spen King had already decided the V8 was the right engine for this new upper-scale station wagon. When the Range Rover debuted in 1970, the 3.5-liter V8 was the only engine offered, a decision that helped define the model and distinguish it from the less powerful, more agricultural Land Rover Series models of the day. Over the course of four decades, the Rover V8 evolved gradually from GM’s simple 3.5-liter carbureted unit into a sophisticated 4.6-liter with fuel injection that powered several families of Land Rover vehicles. At the core, however, the basic design stood the test of time: Aluminum block with cast-in steel cylinder liners, aluminum pistons, five main bearings, and aluminum valve covers on top of pushrod-activated aluminum heads. From its early days in Detroit to its final days in Solihull, the cleverly designed V8 nevertheless eluded perfection. And if it has, in fact, caused many a roadside tantrum, it also gave the British industry a real V8 with very little development investment. And its biggest virtue— lightness—has endeared it to performance enthusiasts for half a decade now. Land Rover exploited its bargain buy through 2004 before retiring the veteran engine and moving to a modern overhead-cam design that still boasts all-aluminum construction. Turn the page to see the evolution of the Rover V8.



3.5 Carbureted

3.5 EFI

Bore - 88.9 mm Stroke - 71.0 mm Displacement - 3528 cc Compression – 8.5:1 Fuel System – Twin Zenith-Stromberg carburetors Ignition System – Distributor, points-type Power – 135 hp @ 4750 rpm Torque – 185 lb/ft @ 2500 rpm Applications – Range Rover Classic (non-U.S.); 101 Forward Control (non-U.S.); Series III Stage One (non-U.S.); 90/110/Defender (non-U.S.).

Bore - 88.9 mm Stroke - 71.0 mm Displacement - 3528 cc Compression – 8.13:1 Fuel System – Lucas L-Jetronic fuel injection Ignition System – Distributor, electronic Power – 150 hp @ 4000 rpm Torque – 190 lb/ft @ 3200 rpm Applications – Range Rover Classic (1987-88)



3.9 EFI

4.2 EFI

Bore – 94.0 mm Stroke - 71.0 mm Displacement - 3946 cc Compression – 8.13:1 Fuel System – Lucas L-Jetronic fuel injection Ignition System – Distributor, electronic Power – 178-182 hp @ 4750 rpm Torque – 227 lb/ft @ 3500 rpm – 232 lb/ft @ 3100 rpm Applications – Range Rover Classic (1989-95) Defender 110 (1993), Defender 90 (1994-95), Discovery I (1994-95)

Bore – 94.0 mm Stroke - 77.0 mm Displacement - 4275 cc Compression – 8.94:1 Fuel System – Lucas L-Jetronic fuel injection Ignition System – Distributor, electronic Power – 200 hp @ 4850 rpm Torque – 250 lb/ft @ 3250 rpm Applications – Range Rover Classic LWB (1993-95)



4.0 GEMS


Bore – 94.0 mm Stroke - 71.0 mm Displacement - 3946 cc Compression – 9.35:1 Fuel/Ignition System – Lucas GEMS Power – 182-190 hp @ 4750 rpm Torque – 232-236 lb/ft @ 3000 rpm Applications – Range Rover P38 (1995-99), Discovery I (1996-99), Defender 90 (1997)

Bore – 94.0 mm Stroke - 71.0 mm Displacement - 3946 cc Compression – 9.35:1 Fuel/Ignition System – Bosch Motronic Power – 188 hp @ 4750 rpm Torque – 250 lb/ft @ 2600 rpm Applications – Range Rover P38 (1999-2000), Discovery II (1999-2002)



4.6 GEMS


Bore – 94.0 mm Stroke - 82.0 mm Displacement - 4552 cc Compression – 9.35:1 Fuel/Ignition System – Lucas GEMS Power – 225 hp @ 4750 rpm Torque – 280 lb/ft @ 3000 rpm Applications – Range Rover P38 (1996-99)

Bore – 94.0 mm Stroke - 82.0 mm Displacement - 4552 cc Compression – 9.35:1 Fuel/Ignition System – Bosch Motronic Power – 217-222 hp @ 4750 rpm Torque – 300 lb/ft @ 2600 rpm Applications – Range Rover P38 (1999-2002), Discovery II (2003-04)



Will Hedrick

The guy who defended dozens of Defender owners against confiscation of their imports by the feds isn’t just a brilliant and generous attorney, he’s also one of us. WORDS Bryan Joslin PHOTOGRAPHY Christopher G. Nieto and Will Hedrick


ong before he was an attorney, even before he’d applied to law school, a young William Hedrick was obsessed with owning a Land Rover Defender. As a North Carolina boy, he’d grown up playing with Jeeps and pickups. But there was something about the Defender that got into his head and never left He managed to buy his first Defender while still in college; that led to his first post-collegiate job as a Land Rover sales guide in nearby South Carolina, where his enthusiasm for the products translated into top sales and customer satisfaction. He left that very satisfying role after half a decade to pursue his law degree, though he hardly left the Land Rover community. But in 2014, at a rare time in his adult life when he didn’t own a Land Rover, Will suddenly found himself at the center an infamous, high-profile legal case involving his favorite vehicles. On July 15 of that year, U.S. Dept. of Homeland Security agents, accompanied by state and local law enforcement, raided homes, businesses, and garages all over the country in search of dozens of commercially imported Defenders that were alleged to have been brought into the country illegally. As fate would have it, one of the unwitting owners happened to live just five minutes down the road from him. When Will offered to help this fellow Defender disciple navigate the storm of litigation that followed, he had no idea just how big this case would become or how it would forever change his career. Unable to limit his services to just this one client, he ultimately went on to represent in Federal District Court the entire contingent of owners against the United States Government’s seizure of their Land Rovers. The ordeal took nearly a year, and Hedrick left his comfortable job as a state attorney—but he never charged for his services. It would have been easy to simply bypass the story of Will Hedrick at his point. His generous work as the “Defender of Defenders” has been chronicled in other places in the three years since CBP went on the offensive, seizing more than fifty Defenders from private citizens

around the country. But there’s more to Will’s story than just a pro bono effort on behalf of like-minded car enthusiasts.

EARLY DAYS Like a lot of us, Will Hedrick was bitten by the Land Rover bug the first time he got up close to a Defender. “I still remember the first time I saw a Defender. I was in high school. A kid at school drove a white ’94 North American Spec D90 soft top. His family bought it new right here in town,” he recalls. He was obsessed. “I was still in high school, so I really couldn’t afford one. But I formulated this idea that I was going to buy one that had been wrecked and then fix it.” A short time after he turned 16, Will was fortunate to meet and become friends with an older gentleman by the name of Owen Swanson. “Owen’s friends and family called him by his nickname, ‘Spike.’ To us newly licensed drivers with a fascination for all things four-wheel drive, he was known locally as ‘the Jeep guy.’ He always had half a dozen to a dozen Jeeps parked in his yard and driveway.” Swanson generously allowed Will and other young enthusiasts to bring their vehicles over to work on them in his garage and use his tools, but he had one rule. “I was welcome to come over pretty well any time to work on my vehicle. If I didn’t know how to fix or take apart something, he’d provide me with instruction on how to do it. But Owen made it clear that he wasn’t going to do the work for me. I had to do the work myself.” Being young, he couldn’t fully appreciate the depth of the informal education he was receiving at the time, but Swanson’s generosity of spirit, time, knowledge, and positive encouragement left a lasting impression on Will. “It didn’t really matter what I was working on; I came to learn that if I was equipped with the right tools, and I was committed to putting in the proper amount of effort, then I could pretty well figure anything out. “This was still the early days of the internet, in the late nineties. I 41


got really good at finding wrecked Defenders online. I started a website while I was in college called, where I posted pictures, information and links to various wrecked Land Rovers that I found. I eventually met and developed a relationship with a gentleman down in Atlanta who specialized in buying and selling salvaged exotic vehicles. I helped him sell his Defenders through my website. “I had always intended to buy a wrecked Defender, but the very first one I bought was actually just a high-mileage vehicle, and it didn’t need any fixing. It was badged No. 96, a Portofino Red 1994 NAS Defender 90 Soft Top, one of the first hundred D90s brought into the country. I picked it up for $19,500, which was still a bit expensive for a college kid in 1999, but I made it work.” The truck had been listed for sale online in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Money in hand, Will flew out to meet the owner and his “new” Defender. “I left Albuquerque that evening and drove to Amarillo, Texas. The next day, I woke up and drove the Defender 24 hours straight through back to Wake Forest, North Carolina. I had to stop for fuel twice in each state, except for Tennessee, where I actually had to stop three times to fill up. I honestly just didn’t want to get out from behind the steering wheel!” By this time he was already immersed in Land Rover culture through his website connections; now he finally had a vehicle in which to join the club members out on the trails. It had become something of a family affliction; his brother also caught the bug. Following his college graduation, Will, his brother, and their father took a trip to the U.K. and made a stop at Solihull for a factory

tour. They showed up at the back gate by accident, only to discover the plant was closed for a bank holiday. Rousing the attention of security staff, however, they explained their situation and were amazed to be granted a very personal, very much unofficial four-hour tour of the idled plant. This only cemented his relationship with Land Rover and, especially, the Defender. Freshly degreed but still contemplating a future in law, Will took a job in the real world to earn some money for the next phase of his education. He turned immediately to what he knew and loved—Land Rovers. Joining the multi-store Land Rover Carolinas Group of dealerships, he went to work sharing his passion with shoppers as a sales guide. It didn’t take long for him to shine in this role. In 2003 he was chosen to represent his dealership at the Land Rover TReK competition, at Forbes Trinchera Ranch in Colorado. He and his team placed second in their wave, narrowly missing a birth in the TReK finals by only a few points. The following year he attained Gold Certified status with Land Rover North America and went on to lead the Southern U.S. Market Region in overall new Land Rover sales. This also earned him his second trip to Solihull, this time for a more legitimate factory tour, where he was among the first to see the new LR3 in pre-production form. His efforts during 2004 also helped to propel his dealership to win the coveted Land Rover Pinnacle Award in 2005. The award recognizes both sales volume and customer satisfaction achievements, and with all the numbers totaled, Will’s Land Rover Centre ranked first in customer service. His Land Rover Centre was further recognized through the local media and public as the new-car dealer of the year, with the local readers and viewership also voting him the best new-car salesperson. For five years he made buying a Land Rover a more enjoyable experience for the people that walked through the doors of his dealership. And along the way he met a lot of exceptional Land Rover owners. But with law school calling, he had to jump off that train in 2006. Little did he know this new path would bring him even more notoriety in Land Rover circles. Eventually.

“I woke up and drove the Defender 24 hours straight through back to North Carolina. I honestly just didn’t want to get out from behind the steering wheel!”

THE CASE The morning of July 15, 2014, was a stressful one for Defender owners across the country. A coordinated raid by the U.S. Dept. of Homeland Security seized imported Defenders from coast to coast. Before owners could communicate to each other what was happening, it was over. More than 30 Defenders were taken into custody, all of them personal imports, all of their owners presumed guilty of importing their vehicles under false pretenses. The epicenter of the activity seemed to be North Carolina, as many of the suspect vehicles had been brought into the country by a Wilmingtonarea chiropractor. One of those vehicles belonged to a man who was practically Will’s neighbor, living just a few minutes away. The owner reached out frantically after first contacting Will’s brother, who by now was also well known for his Land Rover affinity. “You should be talking to my brother,” he said. “He’s an attorney and knows these vehicles inside and out.” The call was made. “When the case came along,” Will recalls, “it was exciting, because it was something I knew a lot about. It was the kind of case I would have dreamed about being involved with in law school but never could have imagined would have actually happened.”



LEFT Will’s 1994 Defender 90 on the trails. Above Will (right) and his teammates finished runner-up in the 2003 TReK competition.

Will met with the client at his place of business around 9:00 p.m. the day of the seizure and spent a couple hours going over pictures and history. The government had claimed his vehicle was a 2000 model. One look through the owner’s photographs, and Will knew right away it was a 1983 model, which is what the client claimed to own. “I was concerned about how his vehicle could be mistaken for a later model. I met with the CPB agent in Raleigh that had taken custody of the vehicle just a couple days after the seizure. I said, ‘You know, this is not a 2000 model.’ And after looking at it more closely, even the CBP agent agreed with me. I knew there was probably a bigger issue here. “So I agreed to represent this first client, but I told him I thought it would only be fair to also represent some of the other owners too. Perhaps I was a bit naïve. I thought maybe four or five other owners would contact me. It never occurred to me that all of them would. Altogether in the case, I represented more than 30 owners; 36 in total, I believe.” “Several of those [vehicles] I was able to get dismissed within the span of about a week. I was able to prove that they had been misidentified by the government. There was a problem with the way the VINs had been researched. Whoever conducted the research was only using the last six digits of the VIN number. Land Rover refers to this set of numbers as a chassis identifier. “What the government didn’t know was that these chassis identifiers get recycled over time—and this is not peculiar to Land Rover. I contacted Land Rover’s U.S. headquarters in New Jersey to make them aware of the issue and to verify that the government’s seizure of these several vehicles had been in error. My suspicions were confirmed when the Asst. U.S. Attorney received verification of the error from Land Rover. He acknowledged the error and quickly moved to dismiss the vehicles that had been misidentified as ‘2000’ models on those grounds. However, they were reluctant to release the rest of the vehicles on that basis.

“One of the first things I had to do was establish the theory of the case. I noticed the government had to let go of several of the bases on which it made its case for seizing these vehicles, and it came down to just one sticking point. That was whether the vehicles had been imported prior to the 25th anniversary of their actual build date. The vehicles were reported to have arrived here anywhere from a few days to a few months earlier than their 25th birthday. But from a model year standpoint, they were all in their 25th model year.” Will’s assessment of the case was this: When the federal agent presented the judge with the warrant, six of the vehicles were assumed to be 2000 models, which would have been an egregious violation of the law since they were far too new to have been allowed under the regulation. But these other vehicles were anywhere from a few days to a few months early in their import. A judge being presented with a request for a warrant doesn’t get the option of breaking down the details; it’s all or nothing. And because the six vehicles were such an egregious violation, he really didn’t have a choice but to authorize the issue of the warrant. “Hindsight being 20:20, those six vehicles should have never been included with the request for the warrant,” asserts Will. “When you remove those six vehicles from the equation, you’re left with a collection of vehicles that were all of the correct model year, but not necessarily 25 years old to the day from their original assembly date. My theory was always this: If the request for the warrant had been presented to the judge with only those vehicles that were alleged to have been imported anywhere from a few days to a few months prior to turning 25 years old exactly, I don’t think the judge would have granted approval of the warrant. The case would have been tenuous at best, and I think the judge would have viewed it as a waste of time. And, so, that is how I approached the case. Eleven months later, it turned out I was right.” But it was an arduous process. “I don’t know how many papers I filed 43


with the court, but it felt like every time I filed a motion the judge would either rule against me or he would sideline it and not rule on it at all. “I did have some major victories in my filings. One of the big ones came literally in the middle of the night. When the government was trying to establish the ages of the vehicles in question, they provided me with these electronic warranty records. This seemed rather odd to me; why would Land Rover have electronic warranty records for vehicles that had been built in the 1980s? I must have looked at these records dozens of times, and in the middle of the night, around 2:00 a.m., I noticed something that I had not noticed before: fine print at the bottom of each document that said, ‘Created on 19/08/2014.’ “All the documents were created on August 19, 2014, over a month after the initial vehicle seizures had taken place. Even more importantly, though, the documents had been created roughly three decades after the vehicles had been manufactured. This was a revelation! In the Rules of Evidence, there is what we refer to as the Business Document Rule. This rule states that in order for a business document to be offered as proof of the happening of an event, the document had to have been created contemporaneously with the event it seeks to prove. This hit me like a lightning bolt! So, I dropped what I had been working on and

immediately began drafting a Motion to Exclude, to have the warranty records thrown out as unacceptable under the rules. The entire court appeared stunned upon my filing of the motion. Because of the implications, I suspect the judge didn’t know how to address it. So, he sidelined my motion to deal with later.” Will ran the case for his clients on a shoestring budget, which paled significantly when compared to the seemingly limitless resources of the federal government. To that end, Will was forced to answer the question on how to make the continued pursuit of this case distasteful to the government. Rule number one in the attorney playbook is to keep the other side busy. “I could have submitted one set of discovery documents that would have covered all the vehicles, but a common legal practice is to load your opponent up on paperwork,” Will concedes. “So, rather than doing one discovery request to cover all of my clients, I decided to do 25 discovery requests, one for each of my clients at that time. Under the rules, the government had to respond in answer to each client’s discovery request individually…oh, and they only had 30 days to do it. It was so much paperwork that just before the 30-day mark the Asst. U.S. Attorney called me to request an extension. This gave me some sorely needed leverage. Needless to say, I declined to agree to such an extension.” Rule number two in the attorney playbook is to make pursuing the case expensive for your opponent. But how does one make something too expensive for the federal government? “I knew that I had the right to conduct in-person inspections of all of my clients’ vehicles. But in thinking about it, I decided that it was unfair for the government to require my clients to shoulder the burden of cost for travel to the 22 different locations where the vehicles were being held for the purpose of inspecting them, not to mention the time it would’ve taken to do so. If I were to travel to inspect one vehicle every other week, it would have taken me in excess of a year to go inspect them all. “I felt that it was the government’s responsibility to make the vehicles available for inspection, as they were the side alleging violations. To that end, I filed discovery requests demanding that the government produce all the vehicles in North Carolina for inspection, whereupon if need be they could be viewed by a jury. After all, the case was being litigated here. As expected, the government refused to comply with our discovery request, because it would have been very expensive to pay for transport of the vehicles to North Carolina from California, Washington State, Arizona, Massachusetts, Florida—from all over the country really. And, remember, that was just the cost for transport one way. In the event the government lost, it would then have to pay to ship the vehicles from North Carolina back to their owners. The outlay would have been several hundred thousand dollars just to have the vehicles moved for the purpose of inspecting them. The government was already off-balance due to its other earlier errors, and I suspected a loss on this issue would topple their case completely.” When it went to the judge, Will says it was like the clouds parted. “He essentially agreed with my position, that I had been doing my due diligence, and that he would give us an extra year to conduct the inspections, but that he wouldn’t start running the clock until we had resolved the issue concerning the government producing the vehicles in North Carolina. The next day I got a call from the Asst. U.S. Attorney asking if my clients and I would entertain going to a settlement 44


“I prepare them for what they’re getting into. Defenders are very different from any other vehicle that’s out there.”

conference.” The government’s lawyers had had enough. “We ended up being assigned to a federal magistrate judge. He was essentially acting as a mediator, going between the government and us to work out a settlement. I think the government must have painted a bad picture of my clients, because he seemed rather flippant toward us in the beginning. I continued on as an advocate for my clients, as I had been trained in law school, but it was the one client of mine who had asked to attend in-person that had the real breakthrough. She was able to give the case a very human perspective and, in turn, was able to engage the judge on a personal level, something I had been unable to do. She explained her affinity for her 110, that it was more than a vehicle. It was symbolic of so much in her life and time that she had spent traveling in Africa. At that moment, the judge opened up, and what came out just stunned me. “As a teenager growing up in rural North Carolina, the judge shared that he had learned how to drive in a 1960 Land Rover Series II 109 Station Wagon. And then he went into detail, recalling his time with that vehicle—even down to how it smelled—and he went on to tell us about how he and his father had later in life gone up to Washington, D.C., to purchase a second Land Rover, an 88” Series III, and then drove it back to North Carolina. I was completely taken aback. I didn’t have to say a whole lot after that. The judge said, ‘Okay, I think I understand where we are; let me talk to the other party and I’ll be back.’ “When he walked out of the room, I looked up past the ceiling towards the heavens as if to God and exclaimed, ‘What are the chances of that? What are the chances that the judge we were assigned to for mediation would have been a former Land Rover owner?’ At that moment, I knew that it was over. And, it was.” His clients were elated. “In July of 2015, a year after the raids, the owners threw a party to celebrate. They came to North Carolina from all over the United States, and it was great! Unbeknownst to me, though, my clients had a surprise in store, something I was totally unprepared for. The surprise was the most awesome ‘thank you’ gift in the history of the world. They gave me a Defender, a 110; they had all pitched in to buy it for me, and I was just completely blown away!”

the public. “My personal view on the case was this,” he says. “If I had been out on the trail or on the highway and passed another Defender owner broken down, I would have stopped to help. There’s no doubt about that. And I think that’s pretty much true of any Defender owner. If you’ve been around this group of like-minded owners, there’s a sense of brotherhood. I just didn’t feel like I could leave them behind. So that was really my motivation for becoming involved. I didn’t realize what it would lead to.” Today Will is putting his experience from the trial to work for other clients interested in importing a special vehicle of their own, Land Rover or otherwise. “I work now as an import agent in a legal capacity. I’m not a customs broker, but I work closely with one. More than anything I handle compliance; I make sure your entire vehicle and your legal documentation are in order. “Part of what I do now is educating people who are buying Defenders. Virtually all of my clients buying Defenders from overseas have never owned one before. Part of what I consider my responsibility, not only as their attorney but also as a Rover enthusiast, is to prepare them for what they’re getting into. Defenders are very different from any other vehicle that’s out there. “And even though I’m known for the Defenders and handle a lot of requests for dealing with Defender imports, there’s a lot of crossover in the car collector world. I just helped a buyer with a BMW Z1, a car that was never sold in this country.” Will is still tackling some of the bigger issues regarding the peculiarities of the personal import regulations. One big case he’s working on involves the EPA and a client whose Defender was imported with a non-original but cleaner-burning engine under its hood. “The EPA asked me about an engine number on a vehicle. From their perspective, there’s a difference between a 12L 2.5L naturally aspirated diesel engine, a 19J turbodiesel engine, and a 200Tdi engine. What they didn’t know is all three of those engines, as well as the 2.5L petrol engine, share the exact same engine block. There’s no difference to speak of between the designs of any of those engine blocks. The difference comes in with the bolt-on parts—the cylinder heads, the addition of a turbo, et cetera. The EPA rule says that as long as it’s an equivalent engine, you

EVERYTHING CHANGED AFTER THAT Early on in the case, Will was still working as an attorney for the State of North Carolina. Two or three times a week, he would go to work during the day and then come home and work on the case all night. His wife actually suggested he just leave the state job to work on this case; she sensed something bigger would come out of it. And she was right. “I did the work pro bono for everyone. Before the settlement conference, the judge asked me to total up expenses; I had kept track of my hours, but I had never really looked to put a dollar amount on my time. When I totaled up all the hours and applied an hourly rate, the total came in just a few thousand shy of half a million dollars. That was a rather surreal moment. But, one of the things important to me was that the clients could have direct contact with me. I talked to all of these owners on the phone regularly. Some of those calls could be 20 minutes, others could be an hour or two.” It’s easy to be callous about attorneys, but Will stands out as perhaps one of the few who uses his knowledge and training for the good of 45

can have a replacement. And that’s what this case revolves around. “[This client’s] vehicle was originally built with a 2.5L naturally aspirated diesel engine, but now it has a 200Tdi in it. Well, the engines are basically the same. The difference is the Tdi has an aluminum head versus the steel head of the naturally aspirated, and the addition of a turbo, which actually reduces emissions, not increases them. To me the EPA’s decision to seize this vehicle at port was nonsensical; it didn’t seem to mesh with the EPA’s directive to protect the environment. It doesn’t make sense that you would deny a vehicle entry because it had a lower emissions engine in it, especially one that was almost identical to the original, to the point that it required zero modification to install it. The 200Tdi was actually sold as a kit by Land Rover to replace engines like the one originally in this vehicle.” He’s still giving back as well. “These import laws have a disproportionate effect on service members deployed abroad, who would often like to bring home the car they’ve been driving while stationed overseas. Whether it’s a Defender or a Mini Cooper, in nine out of ten of the seizure cases I’ve been working on, I discovered these were service members on duty abroad. I now have a working relationship with the military contractor responsible for shipping service members’ vehicles back to the states, serving as a consultant to them and advising them on best practices. “I still like the pro bono aspect of doing this work, so for these service members I offer my services at a significantly reduced rate, just enough to cover my operating expenses. I can’t do it for free anymore, but it’s a

small gesture by which I can thank them for their service to our country.” For Will’s well-heeled clients, he’s been dabbling in automotive tourism as well. “I had some clients ask if I would escort them on a factory tour. This was during the final year of Defender production. So I ended up organizing a trip for some of them to go to the UK. But I said, ‘If we’re going to do this, let’s do it right.’ I ended up arranging for a Celebration Line tour. We went to Eastnor Castle and spent the day off-roading at the Land Rover Experience, and we went to the British Motoring Heritage Centre and did a tour there. The feedback I got was just awesome. It’s just not something that most clients would ever think about going to do on their own. “One of the things I‘m looking at doing now is a similar trip for a dozen of my clients next spring, but this time to Germany, with plans to visit BMW in Munich. We’ll do a factory tour of BMW and also spend a day with the BMW Experience driving school before making our way to up past the Nürburgring to attend the TechnoClassica in Essen. If my clients also enjoy this trip, then I’ll likely look to organize a trip to another, different location in a year or two. Maybe to Italy? It might be fun for us to visit Ferrari…maybe follow the Mille Miglia around the countryside…we’ll see.” Clearly Will Hedrick has carved out a special niche in the automotive world. More than anything, he enjoys seeing people connect with the car of their dreams, and it’s pretty clear he’ll be around to make sure we can all keep doing that.



IMPORTING A WILL’S TIPS FOR IMPORTING A DEFENDER When it comes to importing a car from overseas, there are countless ways to screw up your odds of a smooth delivery. Doing your homework up front will save both time and money. Here is some advice from Will Hedrick on making the process as pain-free as possible.

• There are lots of vehicles out there. Be patient. You don’t want to pick the first one you run across (unless it’s something truly unique). Take your time to find the right vehicle. Spend your money overseas on something structurally and mechanically sound, and then spend your money on cosmetic restoration once you have it here. It will pay you back in the long run.

• Without the in-person inspection, you’re taking a chance on whether the vehicle is fully compliant. This doesn’t necessarily have to do with its configuration or whether the VIN matches or not. Elsewhere in the world, and particularly in the UK, a lot of vehicles are stolen. This can cause problems not just on export but also on import or when you go to title it. Those vehicles get run through a database to make sure they don’t report as stolen.

• More often than not, it is less expensive to deal with a potential issue on the other side of the pond than when it arrives here. The cost to fight a seizure case will almost always cost more. Will’s base retainer for a seizure case is $3,500. That nets you 10 billable hours of work. My contacts in the U.K. charge $35 an hour plus expenses for travel and inspection services. It is far less expensive to spend a few hundred for an in-person inspection before purchase and shipping. Addressing an error only after a vehicle lands here in the U.S. is likely to cost into the thousands.

• CBP is going to assume your vehicle is stolen until you prove otherwise. Get documents for everything. When I present my notes that go with the vehicle for shipment, they’re usually anywhere from 40 to 80 pages. If you’ve done work on the vehicle and you say you’ve replaced the seats, I want to see the receipts for the seats. It’s not just stolen vehicles that CBP is looking for, it’s also looking for stolen parts. It’s up to you to prove that your ownership interest in the vehicle is 100-percent legitimate.

• Make sure you’re buying a vehicle that is still configured as it was built. I see a lot of Defender 110s that started out as threedoor models, and at some point they’ve been converted to fivedoors. Those vehicles will get seized and/or turned around when they arrive stateside. NHTSA’s regulation states that a vehicle must be imported in its original configuration. If it started out as a three-door and became a five-door, that’s not its original configuration. Most people don’t know how to decode the VIN number to find out what they’re buying.

• There are a lot of scammers out there professing to sell you something good, especially on eBay. In reality, a lot of what they’re selling should be scrapped. Unfortunately, a fair number of American buyers will overpay for the vehicles given what they are. • Having a reliable and trustworthy local contact that can assist you will often yield significant benefits. Most people prefer to sell to locals in their community, and they will be skeptical of overseas buyers. And, like it or not, if the foreign seller knows you’re American, then more often than not the price on the vehicle will go up. The same is true of the asking prices on vehicles where the seller’s target customer audience is American.

• Never buy a vehicle sight unseen…unless you have a reliable resource that can do it for you. I have people in different locations that I can call to conduct an in-person inspection to confirm the vehicle is everything it’s represented to be.


Everything you ever wanted in a Defender.




Exotic and accessible all at once, a surfing and camping weekend in Baja California makes the perfect adventurer’s getaway.

WORDS Chris Brinlee, Jr. PHOTOGRAPHY Greg Balkin



or several months, I had been on something of a personal campaign to “Celebrate Discomfort.” The celebration nearly came to a spectacular end when, while backcountry climbing in the Canadian Rockies with my partner, I triggered and was subsequently caught in an avalanche that ripped off the entire snow-covered face of the mountain we were descending on part of Alberta’s Endless Chain Ridge. Despite nearly being wiped 2,000 feet down the side of a mountain to our deaths and having barely enough food to get through the trip, we managed to walk off the mountainside safely, and within 48 hours of the big event, we were back in Colorado. As a follow-up, I spent the next three weeks ski-touring in the European Alps. Sufficiently discomforted, what I really needed was a break. Nothing brings comfort like time spent with old friends. Which is why, while still in Europe, I agreed immediately to an invitation to spend a weekend camping with friends in Baja on my return. The call came from my friend Andy Cochrane, marketing director for Oru Kayak, and the plan was simple: Drive down to Baja, hang with him and a few of his friends, and spend a few days surfing, kayaking, and fishing in the azure waters of the Pacific. No avalanches, guaranteed. Baja. Every young explorer between San Francisco and San Diego has probably made the trip as a rite of passage into adulthood. But for this intrepid traveler, it’s still a special place. Geographically, it’s simply an extension of the State of California, but once you cross the border it’s a different world. There are few places in North America that you can so easily drive to and experience a near-euphoric sense of freedom, adventure, and escape. For the uninitiated, mention of the place probably conjures up visions

of sketchy nights in Tijuana—the seedy, cartel-ridden border town just south of San Diego. Fair enough; the reputation is well deserved. But venture beyond that and you’ll discover the true nature of Mexico’s Baja California peninsula: a place punctuated by pristine wild beaches, warm and gracious locals, and probably the best tacos in the world. To get there, I’d simply have to find an appropriate rig. While you can make the trip in just about anything with wheels, it’s nice to show up over-prepared. What better way to arrive than by Land Rover? I texted my friend Wes Siler, founder of IndefinitelyWild, shortly afterwards: “Can I borrow the Disco?” “The Disco” in this case happens to be a fairly famous one in outdoor adventure circles. Wes bought the 1997 Discovery I from Sinuhe Xavier, creative director at Overland Journal. Considering the Disco’s owners, past and present, you can imagine how well equipped the vehicle is. Refined over years of ownership by access to the best gear in the industry, Sinuhe outfitted the Disco with just enough gear and hardware as necessary for lightweight, self-contained overland adventures. Nothing is there for show; it’s either functional or it’s gone. Not even a rooftop tent. Instead, a Nemo Wagontop tent lives in back, both lighter and more spacious than the rooftop option, leaving simple kitchen appointments and secure storage as its main improvements. Modestly THIS PAGE The sun rises slowly over the Baja peninsula. OPPOSITE PAGE, CLOCKWISE FROM TOP LEFT Surfing in the pacific; our overland steed, Wes’ trusty 1997 Discovery 2.



bananas that we picked up along the way. The extended weekend was further punctuated by long walks on the coast, naps in the sun, and Andy’s entertaining attempt to surf. With the exception of a few local fishermen, who descended onto the nearby beach to collect fresh mussels, we saw no one. Days blended together. Save flickers from a nearby village, there was almost no pollution from light, allowing for us to take in expansive views of the star-studded blanket of night sky. We were in paradise, and we had it all to ourselves. All good things come to an end eventually, and our time in Baja was no exception. On the final morning of our trip, we broke down camp, packed up the Disco, and made chorizo breakfast burritos before taking off. The drive home was quiet, as everyone in our group soaked up the last moments of Baja bliss—for soon, we’d all return to the grind.

lifted and with proper tires, even its off-road modifications place reliability and versatility ahead of spectacle. Simply put, it’s the perfect vehicle for an escape to Baja. Upon my arrival in Los Angeles, Wes dialed me in on the Land Rover’s purpose-built nature, its off-road capabilities, and, more importantly, how to operate the stereo and fridge. I loaded it up with my camping gear and requisite energy drinks, picked up my friends Greg and Stephanie from LAX, and then started south towards the border. The plan was to meet up with Andy and our friend, Johnie, both already camped out near the beach a couple of hours south of Ensenada. Crossing into Mexico was a breeze. No one checked our passports, or even bothered to wave us through. That wouldn’t be the case on the journey home, but for the moment we were free and clear. Our first stop as foreign tourists was, perhaps somewhat ironically, at Wal-Mart. A beacon of familiarity and convenience in Rosarito, it provided us with grocery staples for the weekend. A couple of hours later we stopped in Ensenada for a pit stop and to buy straw hats. With no familiar American chain restaurants in sight, we grabbed a local bite to eat, devouring the best tacos any of us had ever eaten. It was dark by the time we turned off of the highway; there was still a solid hour of driving down a rutted, rocky road until we reached the coordinates where Andy and Johnie were camped. They must have gotten worried about us, because about fifteen minutes out we were met by a blinding wall of light coming from Andy’s Tacoma. We followed them back to the cliff where they had been stationed, and then we parked, set up camp, and passed out for the night. With the sunrise came our first glimpse of paradise. Golden rays of light filtered in through the translucent green walls of our tent; the ocean in front of us contrasted subtly with the sky’s pastel morning hues. Seabirds listlessly floated in the coastal breeze, black and white specks against the hazy blue. Our only obligations were to enjoy the beach, sleep, and eat all of the fresh mangoes, oranges, pineapples, and

HOW TO GET THERE From Los Angeles, it’s about a five-hour drive south to reach Ensenada, Baja California; the real adventure begins once you pass that port city. After cruising through, keep driving as far south as you’d like on Highway 1 (the main north-to-south artery of the peninsula, which, for the most part, is a beautifully paved blacktop highway that runs through mountains and valleys, and occasionally skirts along the Pacific Coast). At any point, head west towards the coast to discover near endless opportunities for leaving the pavement behind. Roads range from unpaved to fully rutted out, but even a stock Land Rover should be able to handle most of these with no issues.

FINDING A BEACH TO CAMP ON Google Earth, with its satellite imagery, is going to be your best friend. Use the app to trace the route along Highway 1, then find dirt roads that split off and lead to the coast. The closer the roads go to the water, the better chance you’ll have of scoring a slice of oceanfront heaven. Grab the GPS coordinates for the area that you’d like to explore, plug them



into Google Maps on your phone, then save that area for offline use. The fun part will be navigating to the coordinates, and then exploring in person to find a suitable spot for camping.

in the middle of Ensenada; in Tijuana, a couple of children were juggling while standing on others’ shoulders. Despite all of that urban commotion, the quality of the main highway (which is a tollway, so be sure to bring some small bills) is superb; drivers seem comically calm compared to those raging through the streets of L.A. The border crossing from California into Baja is easy; you likely won’t even have to stop. You will probably encounter military checkpoints along the highway, but don’t be alarmed—chances are that they’ll just wave you through. The border crossing on return to the U.S. can be a pain, however. Expect to wait anywhere between two and four hours. Don’t try to bring food, animals, or (obviously) people you just picked up back across the border, or it will slow the process down even more. Most people you encounter along the way will speak only Spanish, but a rudimentary vocabulary and some sign language will go a long way. The people are really friendly, and in my experience they are almost always ready to help if anything goes awry. The U.S. dollar is accepted everywhere; most transactions will require cash, the exception being purchases made from chain stores (like Home Depot, or Wal-Mart; yes, they exist and they are also convenient stops for cheap groceries and supplies). Most gas stations, like Mexico’s own Pemex, will accept debit or credit cards too—just be sure to set up a travel plan with your bank before heading south.

WHAT TO EXPECT As its name would suggest, Baja California shares a border with its neighbor to the north; in many ways, the Mexican peninsula shares a lot more with California too, from its Mediterranean climate (which transitions to arid further inland and south) to the proliferation of incredible Mexican food throughout. Make no mistake though; upon crossing the border, it will become very apparent that you have traveled to a totally foreign place. For starters, there’s a certain madness on the streets. Vendors compete for the attention of passers-by, hocking everything from fresh churros and sliced mango to Mexican blankets and copper embossments depicting the Last Supper. Stoplights in the cities are transformed into impromptu performances akin to Cirque du Soleil by truly entertaining performers. We saw one person juggling fireballs while wearing six-foot-tall stilts

WHAT TO BRING The three most important things that you should bring are pretty obvious: your passport, some cash (for small purchases and emergencies, $300 should be more than enough for a long weekend), and the spirit of adventure. These three things alone will get you pretty far. If planning to camp, bring all of the necessary equipment: a tent; a sleeping pad; a sleeping bag, blankets, or a quilt; stove and fuel; cookware and utensils; a knife or axe for processing firewood; and a cooler. It can get pretty windy near the ocean, so pack some extra paracord to guy out your tent. If planning to drive off road, be sure to pack some overland equipment. A pair of MaxTrax can be a lifesaver in a sticky situation, but a five-dollar shovel from the Home Depot in Ensenada can go a long way too. It’s also a good idea to pack a tire patch kit and a compact air compressor. Mexican law requires that you have special insurance for your vehicle as well. It’s liability only and won’t cover any damages to your vehicle, but it’s a good idea to arrange this beforehand. A quick Google search for “Baja Insurance” will lead to what you need. The two things that you shouldn’t bring for any reason are firearms or ammo. Taking those across the border is one of the quickest ways to spend some time in a Mexican jail.

SHOULD I GO? The answer to this question is a resounding “Yes.” Baja is so incredibly accessible, and the experiences waiting for those who venture south are sure to be memorable. The real question you should ask is, “Why haven’t I gone to Baja yet?” Chances are that Chris Brinlee, Jr. wrote this from the road (or on a boat, plane, or train) while traveling around the globe. Wanna see what he’s currently up to? Follow his adventures and stories on Instagram.


“With the exception of a few local fisherman, we saw no one. Days blended together. We were in paradise and we had it all to ourselves.�




They Called it the Rovin’ Rover An intrepid adventurer that has seen the world and has the pictures to prove it.

WORDS Steve Hoare PHOTOGRAPHY Daniel Marcello & Herb Zipkin 55



f these walls could talk…it’s a thought we’ve all shared. But when I first stood in front of Herbert Zipkin’s Series II 109 Station Wagon, all I could think was, ‘If these wheels could talk…’ Over the years I’ve run into this particular Land Rover at countless Land Rover events, and I never get tired of walking around it in ever smaller circles as I discover yet another amazing detail. But it’s not just the modifications that make this Series II so special—it’s also one of the most experienced travelers of any Land Rover. If vehicles had passports, this one’s pages would be a collage of colorful stamps in countless languages. If it could talk, oh the tales it would tell. As did many G.I.s, Herb returned home from World War II and went to work for himself, helping fuel the economic powerhouse that defined 1950s America. With success came a desire to travel the world; more specifically, Herb wanted to do the famous Grand Tour, during which young English gentlemen visited the Continent to experience all its glories before settling into business or entering the military. A visit to the New York Auto Show in late 1950s started him down the proverbial road to adventure, and it also sparked his life-long love for Land Rovers. He placed an order for a 1959 Series II 109 Station Wagon and made arrangements to take delivery directly from the Solihull factory in England.

Given his plans for extensive travel through Africa after his European jaunt, Herb ordered the Station Wagon with the factory’s optional safari roof, a second skin that acts as an insulating layer between the main roof skin and the sun’s rays. A factory sun visor, mounted externally above the windshield, offered similar protection to the front seat occupants. More importantly, the truck was built with heavy-duty springs and delivered with spare leaves, just in case one should give up in some remote corner of the world. As 1958 was the first year for the Series II, there were some peculiarities in the production specs. Herb’s Land Rover, for instance, left the factory with twin fuel tanks and electric fuel pumps, presumably leftovers from Series I production. Traveling the world at that time was no small undertaking—for anyone. But Herb couldn’t afford to just take off and leave his business behind; he still needed to run his affairs while on the road. With no Internet, no cell phones, no credit cards—hell, even getting a delivery of mail on the other side of the world was a dicey proposition—this would be no casual endeavor.

FIRST TIME WAS A CHARM Eager to begin exploring, Herb started with the known world, heading



out for Germany where he had some special modifications made to the brand-new truck by an outfitter long forgotten. Fuel and water capacities were increased with the addition of jerry cans, extending the vehicle’s range significantly in areas where both these commodities would be scarce. Mounted to the front bumper, these additional cans meant the front position lamps and turn signals would need to be relocated; a pair of pods mounted atop the fenders was the typical solution for this common addition. At the same time, safety guards for the headlights and bumper-mounted fog lights were installed to protect against unknown hazards on the open road. A similar treatment was done out back—two additional jerry cans each for water and fuel positioned in custom locking holders. The water tanks were plumbed directly into the truck’s interior for refreshment on the move or while parked. As in the front, this required moving the light clusters to a new, higher location. A rearward-facing spotlight serves double duty as a standard reverse lamp or as a work light at the flip of an override switch. A front-mounted drum winch operates by hand-controlled mechanical linkages from inside the cabin. Interior handles also control a pair of roof-mounted spotlights. Redundant rearview mirrors on both the front doors and the front fenders deliver expanded fields of view.

Redundancy is carried over to the spare tires as well: One is mounted on its traditional perch atop the hood with another located on the rear cargo door. A novel use of aerodynamic science (yes, on an early Land Rover!) is the rear air deflector mounted over the rear door, which helps eliminate dust build-up on the window. A pair of short alloy ladders, mounted one to each side, allow access to the roof while also doubling as sand ladders for recovery. An access door was cut into the left-hand rear tub and a storage container installed for tool storage. By most standards, this expedition vehicle was well prepared for almost any challenge. None of this equipment was terribly exceptional for the type of journey Herb had planned. The hinged turret mounted through the doubleskinned safari roof was rather unconventional, however, even for a safari outfitting. But this turret wasn’t for a gun; instead, it allowed Herb to pop through the roof with his photographic gear (including a handheld movie camera) to capture his memories on film to share with friends and family back home. He also had a dashboard mount made for his movie camera as well as a tripod mount for the rear cargo door. The interior was equally well outfitted for a life of adventure. A pair of fold-down bunks provided sleeping quarters in the rear, opposite a folddown countertop and sink. A custom cabinet provided clean, safe storage

“Soviet authorities somehow missed the concealed rifle compartment as well as the revolver stored beneath the steering column.”

The Dormobile interior conversion changes the first two rows of seats into a rather comfortable bed in a matter of seconds. With custom window coverings and a hot water heater as well, this truck is fully self–sustaining.





for valuables, while a second cabinet was built specifically to store Herb’s audio tape recorder. A pair of reading lamps in back provided ample light inside the cabin, while curtains were fitted to the windows to keep light (and prying eyes) out. At the business end of the cabin, extended instrumentation included an altimeter, a barometer, a compass and a 24-hour clock. An adjustable map light was fitted to aid navigation in the dark. Beneath the driver’s seat was a flashlight mount should illumination be required outside the vehicle, reachable through a special side panel that eliminated the need to remove the seat for access. This spot also held essential tools. Less obvious was the machete sheath on the inside of the passenger bulkhead and the hidden compartment for a rifle beneath the couch. After exploring southern Europe for several weeks, Herb moved on to Egypt and continued south through Sudan and into the Belgian Congo. As he trekked through Africa, it wasn’t unusual for locals to take notice when the Land Rover appeared; after all, in most of these places it was quite rare to see any vehicle let alone one outfitted to cross an entire continent. To Herb’s surprise, a Dutchman once sprang from the bushes in one village, running after the Land Rover, his arms flailing about to catch Herb’s attention. This gentleman had heard of Herb’s imminent arrival and was looking forward to making the acquaintance of an American once again. His previous encounter with a Yank had been with one Theodore Roosevelt, who, before he was president, had passed through on safari in 1909. Along the way, Herb made some modifications to the Rover as he adapted to life on the road. First he altered the windshield sun visor, cutting a relief on the passenger’s side that allowed the full scope of a wide-angle lens to be employed when photographing or filming from the passenger’s seat. Next he added a pair of roof-mounted air horns. More useful in traffic than the weak factory tones, they also proved an effective way to remove unwanted monkeys from the roof. His travels continued southward, terminating in Cape Town, South Africa. Upon arrival at the Cape, the Land Rover (along with hundreds of photographs and thousands of feet of movie film) was packed up and shipped back to America. Herb hopped a flight and returned home to resume his normal life.

Bulgaria and into the USSR. Staying only in designated “tourist hotels,” the overnight accommodations were very basic and hospitable, if unimaginative and rather boring. Everything changed on the first day of May 1960. Unbeknownst to Herb, the Soviets had shot down an American U2 spy plane flying in the stratosphere over the Soviet Union. The pilot, Gary Powers, was captured, and the incident triggered some of the most contentious months of the Cold War. As an American within Soviet borders, Herb was arrested and interrogated for 12 hours. While he was being interrogated, the Land Rover was impounded, stripped and searched for evidence of nefarious intentions. Soviet authorities viewed all the film Herb had shot and listened to his audio recordings. What they somehow missed was the concealed rifle compartment Herb cleverly had built into the vehicle’s rear seating area. They also failed to discover the revolver stored inside a special compartment beneath the steering column. Judged to be harmless, Herb was released from custody and freed to continue his educational journey. He headed south into Turkey and on to its capital, Istanbul. Herb had arranged to pick up his mail from the U.S. Embassy there but discovered more than just letters and business correspondence awaiting him. Because of the Powers incident, members of the OSS and CIA greeted him, demanding a detailed debriefing of his time in the USSR, as well as details on anything and everything he’d observed and experienced in the secretive state. This had become a strange trip, indeed. Once again freed of the authorities, he continued east through Afghanistan, Iran, Pakistan and India, each of these countries commemorated by a hand-painted icon on the front fender as a badge of honor. Crossing from India into Burma, Herb picked up the Ledo Road, sometimes known as the Stillwell Road, after the American General Stillwell. The 1,700-mile road starts in Ledo, Assam, India, and connects to the Burma Road and on to Kunming, China, through northern Burma, now Myanmar. This road was built to help supply China with military supplies during WWII after the Japanese cut off the Burma Road. Once the war ended, the makeshift route fell into disrepair and the jungle reclaimed countless miles. Herb’s tour of Asia ended in Japan, where legend has it his Rovin’ Rover was the first imported vehicle to be issued a civilian license plate. Many Land Rovers and their owners set out in search of new experiences and exotic destinations in that time before today’s geopolitical complexities made it so difficult to do. Few likely saw as many places as Herb and his Series II, however, not to mention having pictures and movies as proof. Herb passed away in 2008, but not before he put the Land Rover to good use on several coast-to-coast American trips, which his son Eric recalls with excitement. With Herb’s passing, the veteran traveler came under Eric’s stewardship. The storied Rovin’ Rover sat under a cover for a number of years untouched, but Eric has started overhauling most of its vital systems now that his sons are approaching driving age. There’s a possibility Eric may enter it in the Great American Race soon. Few vehicles have driven so much of the planet as this Series II. Still in the family of the original owner, the old rig doesn’t appear to be slowing down, either. We wouldn’t be surprised if, in another half a century, we’ll be telling the next chapter of the adventures and exploits of the Zipkins’ Rovin’ Rover.

NOT SO EASY THE SECOND TIME AROUND It wasn’t long before Herb gave in to the resounding call of the open road; in 1960 he and the Rover headed back to Europe. This time the plan was to head east and explore parts of Asia. But this was 1960, and the Cold War between the Soviet Union and the United States was heating up. While overseeing additional modifications to the Land Rover specifically for this round of travel, Herb was granted a special visitor visa, allowing him to travel through Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union. He was to be part of a so-called “student tour.” Having picked up his Russian minder…sorry, obligatory guide, Herb and the Land Rover rolled through Checkpoint Charlie in Berlin, following a special map with only one road marked through East Germany, Poland,



B A C K O N T R e K A labor of love returns a rusted-out champion to its former glory. WORDS + PHOTOGRAPHY Nicholas Bratton


Rovers after exploring the Pacific Northwest and Utah desert in his Discovery II. Impressed by what the vehicle could do without modifications, he sought an older model with a manual transmission — and had no inkling that he would find an uncommon treasure. In March 2012, Chuck came across an unusual listing on eBay. It appeared to be a 1997 Discovery XD, finished in that model’s distinctive AA Yellow paint and equipped with a 5-speed manual gearbox. However, the markings weren’t quite right and some of the features were a bit different. The ad also listed the truck as a 1996 model. With a bit of research and some calls to Land Rover North America, Chuck confirmed the seller’s assertion that this yellow Discovery was one of ten such examples built specifically for — and used to its full potential in — the 1996 TReK finals. In fact, this particular truck was identified as competitor vehicle #4 from the event. Surprised by the rarity of the find, Chuck bought it sight unseen and had it shipped across the country. This impulsive purchase ignited a five-year quest to restore a piece of Land Rover history. When the #4 TReK Discovery arrived at Chuck’s house, he was crestfallen. The vehicle was in worse condition than he had feared. The seller, an enthusiast living on the Massachusetts coast, was the original owner of the truck and was using it temporarily while restoring a Series III. However, he fell in love with the yellow Discovery and kept it until it no longer passed state inspection. Although the truck drove well, it was heavily corroded from years of exposure to northeastern winters and the salty maritime climate. Recognizing the magnitude of a restoration, Chuck nevertheless determined to breathe back new life into the crumbling champ. Drawing on his expertise with the inner workings of jet liners and an earlier stint as an Army mechanic, he began tearing apart the distressed Disco. Each layer peeled back revealed more damage, including rust that permeated the sills, inner fenders, floors…everything. Despite the carnage, Chuck carried out almost all the repairs himself in his garage using home tools. “I had a lot of late nights and long weekends,” he recalls with a smile. “The bumper is like a unicorn’s horn — these were made specially for this batch of ten trucks, and I had to remanufacture most of it.” Meanwhile, Chuck continued researching the history of his vehicle and the TReK itself, benefiting from the encyclopedic knowledge of Land Rover’s Bob Burns. His job title was a mouthful — Training and Development Manager of Off-Road Programs for Land Rover North America — but, under the direction of his inventive boss Bill Baker, Burns’ real job was transforming the way the company did business on the continent (see Alloy+Grit, Spring 2017). At a time when marketing romanticized the American SUV craze by perching spotless vehicles in picturesque locations, Bob took a different road and developed the TReK challenge, pressing Land Rovers into real action and showcasing their abilities and accessories in a single, dynamic package.

he mid ’90s was a pivotal period for Land Rover in America. After years offering just a single model, the Range Rover, its growing roster of dealerships finally had a full lineup that now included the family-friendly Discovery and the rough-and-tumble Defender. Also in full swing at the time was the high-profile Camel Trophy off-road competition, which helped shape global perception of Land Rover as a brand for rugged individualists with a thirst for adventure. But, the company still faced an obstacle closer to home: How did it convince the people selling its product that all this adventure stuff wasn’t just marketing hype? The solution, quite simply, was to transform perception into reality. Enter the TReK competition, an event that Land Rover North America launched to bring a taste of the grueling Camel Trophy to dealerships across the continent. The concept was to give sales staff an immersive experience testing the capabilities of the Discovery while fostering teamwork and developing a shared understanding of what Land Rover was all about. Like the Camel Trophy, it involved tasks demanding driver skill, navigation, pioneering, and problem solving — but in the course of just two days instead of two weeks. This contest was not just a team-building exercise; it was about creating a mythos around the Discovery. Land Rover convened the inaugural TReK competition, open to all of its dealers, in two stages. The initial round set teams of three employees from each dealer against other dealers at the regional level, each team driving a Discovery. The winners of the five regional contests advanced to the final, hosted in Georgia on a 300-acre property that belonged to an Atlanta-area dealership owner. This expensive gamble by Land Rover reflected a sophisticated understanding of its sales network and the power of authenticity. If the company’s dealers could channel the spirit of the event through their own experiences with the Discovery, the legend of its capability would be more effectively communicated to potential buyers and thus translate into sales. Fast forward to 2012, when a 38-year-old Boeing aircraft mechanic living near Seattle was on the hunt for a special Land Rover to add to his growing collection. Back in 1996, Chuck Prowse had no idea the TReK competition ever existed, nor did he anticipate its unexpected intersection with his passions. Chuck had fallen in love with Land

OPPOSITE Chuck navigates the trails in Olympic National Forest.







“YOU START A PROJECT LIKE THIS, AND YOU HAVE TO FINISH IT. EACH PART I COMPLETED WAS A STEPPING STONE TO THE NEXT.” For the first TReK competition, Bob commissioned ten stock Discovery XD models — desirable for their basic trim and lack of sunroofs — painted AA Yellow (named for England’s Automobile Association, the equivalent of our AAA) with a full complement of accessories, most available from the factory. These included a Warn winch, Safety Devices roof rack, auxiliary lights, tail light guards, rubber floor mats, seat covers, tool kit, and rear ladder. Special touches included decals, winch bumper with brush guard, black alloy wheels, and even a Land Rover-branded fire extinguisher. Remember, these Discovery models were mechanically identical to versions that customers could drive off a dealer’s lot. The message was clear: Land Rovers deliver impressive off-road performance right out of the box. While conceived as a challenge for its dealerships, Land Rover also took the novel step of turning the TReK competition into a media event. In a year when the United States hosted the summer Olympics and NASCAR was building a huge audience through high-speed drama on the track, Land Rover convinced ESPN to film a special on their comparatively low-speed and rather unconventional 4x4 competition. This program introduced Land Rover to a broader audience and boosted the Discovery’s reputation as a highly capable vehicle. In fact, 1996 was a good year for Atlanta in particular. In addition to hosting the Olympics, the Braves went to the World Series, and it was hometown dealership Land Rover North Point that won the inaugural TReK contest – in truck #4, the very vehicle that wound up in Chuck Prowse’s garage. Past glory did nothing, however, to preserve the state of the truck. Chuck was nearly overwhelmed by the pervasive rust. Even when body parts disintegrated in his hands, he maintained the resolve to soldier on with the increasingly complex project. Ultimately he outsourced a few tasks, including replacing the radiator core support, straightening the frame horns, and repainting the roof. “I thought I would need another tetanus shot,” Chuck laughs. “I never want to see another rusty truck again.” When asked if there were any moments when he wondered if he’d gotten himself in too deep, his Army pride bristles at the suggestion. “Never,” he asserts. “You start a project like this, and you have to finish it. Each part I completed was a stepping stone to the next.” Once he had conquered the corrosion, Chuck had a clear vision for

the future of this rare creature, though not as a museum piece or the crown jewel for a private collection. Wanting to keep the appearance as close to original as possible, he decided to leave most of the body panels untouched. The driver’s side rear quarter panel boasts a dent, possibly inflicted in the course of competition. Chuck has grown attached to the faded look of some areas, notably the hood blackout with its missing decal, as a sign of graceful aging. This is consistent with his desire for the truck to proudly wear the patina it has acquired over time. Only the roof has been repainted. The interior, by contrast, escaped the ravages of the environment and is completely original. The floor mats are worn and the seat covers are discolored from many a sweaty back, but this speaks, more than 20 years on, to the durability of the factory accessories. Chuck even has the original toolkit and carry bags made for the event. He drives it weekly, takes it off road, and goes on trips with the Pacific Coast Rover Club and Northwest Overland Society. “I want to enjoy this truck,” Chuck explains. “I want to save it, but I also want to show it to the world and tell its story. When I bought it I had no idea what the TReK event was, and I figured other people didn’t, either. I feel obligated to preserve this piece of history.” He has added a few personal touches along the way, including a Mantec snorkel, Old Man Emu suspension, and some underbody armor. With the restoration complete, Chuck continues his search for the other nine competition vehicles from the first TReK event to keep track of the survivors. He has located six or seven of them across the country, including one in nearby Portland that a friend of his recently purchased. Truck #4 remains special even among this rarified company, as Land Rover repurposed it as a competition vehicle in the Team USA Camel Trophy selection trials for 1997 — hence the different decals on the doors and TReK logo removed from the hood. Chuck is also turning his attention to other projects, including retracing the path of another historic Land Rover event, the Great Divide Expedition, in his 1991 Great Divide Edition Range Rover. It’s hard to imagine which current Land Rover some enthusiast might decide to restore 20 years from now for history’s sake. Perhaps a first-edition Discovery 5? If Chuck has anything to do with it, his 1996 TReK Discovery will still be rock-solid and running strong.


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One short production run was all it took to create a legend WORDS Bryan Joslin PHOTOS Tom Blizzard & Land Rover




ew regular production vehicles are so iconic that, in a single glance, they can communicate clearly the true spirit of the brand they represent. The Volkswagen Beetle, Porsche 911, and original Mini come to immediate mind. And in that same company undeniably belongs the Land Rover Defender. A direct descendant of the original Series One Land Rover, the Defender represents the sweet spot in the development of a storied line of rugged, simple, do-anything utility vehicles that evolved slowly but authentically. Today the Defender has effectively become universal shorthand – the single most recognizable icon – for Land Rover itself. Since going out of production in early 2016, the Defender is more popular than ever with enthusiasts, as prices are beginning to reflect. And while Defender prices in general are on the rise, one particular variation’s cost has gone through the roof – the North American Specification, or NAS, models sold between 1993 and 1997. So why all the fuss about a basic utility vehicle? Before we answer that, we should first explain just exactly what a Defender is, and what makes the North American version so unique.

DEFENDER DEFINED It’s not uncommon to hear someone misidentify an older Land Rover as a Defender when in fact it is probably a Series Land Rover. It’s a forgivable offense; the silhouette of a 1948 Series One and a 2016 Defender may be virtually indistinguishable to the untrained eye, but the very last Defender built shared not a single identifiable part with that first Land Rover. What they do share is a basic architectural form: A steel ladder frame as its foundation, with a fixed bulkhead serving as the cornerstone from which simple aluminum body panels — consisting largely of right angles and elementary radii — are hung using rivets and bolts. Beneath their boxy, similar-looking alloy bodies, however, are numerous hardware differences that set the Defender apart from other Land Rovers — but they didn’t get there overnight. Solihull was building Land Rovers for 45 years before the Defender label was ever applied. Every decade or so, the company would wheel out a new version of its utility truck with a handful of improvements and a new designation. The

farmers and tradesmen and other work crews who were buying them seemed content with the modest pace of progress, largely because their Land Rovers were dependable most days and if needed were simple enough to fix. By the early ’70s certain customers — military buyers specifically — were demanding greater refinement and capability if they were to continue using Land Rovers in their fleets. Unfortunately, these demands arrived on its doorstep at a time when the company was too cash-strapped to invest in new developments. Better ride and handling, more power, and an overall improvement in ease of use were the order of the day. Working with what they had, the team turned to the Range Rover parts bin for solutions. Coil springs, wider axles, full-time four-wheel drive and a V8 engine were already on hand and seemed right for the mission. In 1976, Roger Crathorne, Land Rover’s head of development, assembled the first four mules for what would eventually become the Defender by merging Range Rover chassis beneath Series III bodywork. Two of these “hybrid prototypes” also included the Range Rover’s 3.5-liter V8 to address the need for more power, while the other two featured the company four-cylinder. The marriage of all these on-hand components worked surprisingly well, though there were some issues to be addressed. In order to accommodate the V8 and its driveline, the Series III radiator needed to move forward. The solution was to make the grille flush with the front fenders. The wider track of the Range Rover axles pushed the tires outside of the bodywork, but rather than press new sheet metal, the styling team came up with the addon fender extensions or eyebrows. Three different wheelbases were considered at this stage of the development: a 90-inch and a 110-inch roughly approximated the existing 88- and 109-inch Series III models, while a midpoint 100-inch wheelbase was already in use on the Range Rover. Through a series of revisions to satisfy a variety of military considerations, the company chose to stick with its familiar configurations, as the 100-inch chassis itself would have saved almost no money and would have required tooling up for new bodywork. This so-called Stage 2 Land Rover, named for the second stage of the British government’s investment in new British Leyland vehicles, was cleared for production beginning in 1982. Ironically, had Land Rover’s development 70

budgets been larger, it’s entirely possible the company would have parted ways with the Series III-based architecture by the early ’80s, and there might never have been a Defender as we know it. An all-new model was proposed around 1973 that would have drastically altered the course of Land Rover evolution (Google “Land Rover SD5” and prepare to be shocked). Thankfully, there was no spare change in the couch cushions in those days, and the Series III design soldiered on out of necessity. What they do share is a basic architectural form: A steel ladder frame as its foundation, with a fixed bulkhead serving as the cornerstone from which simple aluminum body panels — consisting largely of right angles and elementary radii — are hung using rivets and bolts. Beneath their boxy, similarlooking alloy bodies, however, are numerous hardware differences that set the Defender apart from other Land Rovers — but they didn’t get there overnight. Solihull was building Land Rovers for 45 years before the Defender label was ever applied. Every decade or so, the company would wheel out a new version of its utility truck with a handful of improvements and a new designation. The farmers and tradesmen and other work crews who were buying them seemed content with the modest pace of progress, largely because their Land Rovers were dependable most days and if needed were simple enough to fix.

A LEGEND IS BORN What emerged as an all-new 1983 model wasn’t actually called Defender, however. In fact, the name for this new version was something of an afterthought. It wasn’t really a Series III, which was to remain in production concurrently as a low-price alternative, as well as a hedge in case loyalists disapproved of the refinements. The new model wasn’t actually a Series IV either; that designation had already been applied to a stillborn concept for an entry-level model proposed in the early ’70s. Instead, Land Rover identified the new fourdoor model simply by its nominal wheelbase dimension, the 110 (and eventually the 90, which debuted a year later). To avoid confusion over the proper use of this new designation — is it 1-1-0 or one hundred ten or one ten or…? — the marketing team decided on a grille badge that read simply ‘One Ten.’


When the short-wheelbase version launched later, it was christened Ninety. Throughout the ’80s these new coil-sprung models found favor with traditional Land Rover owners as well as new customers throughout the world. They also gained hero status in the popular Camel Trophy off-road expedition series as the competition vehicles from 1984-89 (except 1987 when there was no event), bolstering Land Rover’s rugged image. But as the decade drew to a close, Land Rover sales had slipped as the company concentrated too heavily on its home market at the expense of developing more lucrative new markets, including the United States. To address these opportunities, a series of improvements were ordered for the utilitarian 110 and 90 models to make them more attractive to leisure buyers. This program amounted to a host of comfort features, such as better upholstery, finished headliners and a variety of functional improvements, which were applied starting with the 1991 model year. By 1989, Land Rover finally had three distinct product lines with the addition of the all-new Discovery. The no-nonsense numerical designations used on the utility models didn’t

exactly spark emotion, and since the company was courting more lifestyle-oriented buyers, it was decided that these newly upgraded models deserved a fresh designation. The name Defender emerged, as legend has it, over drinks in a bar while some of the Solihull staff was visiting America. It fit the vehicle’s strapping persona, plus it was an alliterative complement to the new Discovery. Despite Land Rover’s best efforts, the Defender (and its coil-sprung predecessors) came to be revered for its capabilities rather than its amenities. Genuine, without veneer, it was built for a life of service, not vanity. To this day, that’s part of its appeal. But the Defender’s rugged, basic image also made it a difficult sales proposition for Land Rover, which after a 13-year absence from the American market returned here in 1987 positioned as a luxury brand built around the Range Rover, its lone product offering. Even with the latest upgrades and a new name, the Defender couldn’t have been more different from the Range Rover.

COMING TO AMERICA After weathering several years with a single model, Land Rover’s North American operation was desperate for some fresh 71

product, and the Discovery wasn’t yet ready for prime time. That left only the Defender. Marketing, however, wasn’t going to be the only challenge to selling it in the U.S. The upgrades to creature comforts made for 1991 couldn’t overcome the realities of the truck’s old-school construction methods, which left the rugged-looking off-roader behind the times in terms of safety. To address those concerns, Land Rover worked with Safety Devices, which had already built the roll cages for the Camel Trophy vehicles, to develop a cage setup for the North American Spec Defenders. The resulting exoskeleton, bolstered with internal bracing, required these Defenders to be assembled by hand. Land Rover’s newly formed Special Vehicle Operations team would receive partially constructed Defenders and fit the roll cages, unique side steps and brush bar, and other NAS-specific equipment offline. This was time consuming and expensive, even more so than a standard Defender. Still uncertain about how the Defender would play out in this market, Range Rover North America (as it was still known) bet small, committing to a limited run of just 500 U.S. Defender NAS 110s, plus an additional 25


“The limited availability and one-time offer of the Defender 110 created exclusivity and helped reestablish Land Rover as a soughtafter premium brand in America.”

for Canada, for just a single model year, 1993. They would feature the highest equipment specification yet offered on a Defender and, with power coming exclusively from the same V8 as the Range Rover, would be positioned as a premium lifestyle vehicle. These were not your Welsh uncle’s wheezy little sheep tenders. The limited availability and one-time offer of the 110 created exclusivity and helped reestablish Land Rover as a sought-after premium brand in America. The Defender returned for 1994 though with no pre-set production limits and this time only as a 90-inch softtop. A 90-inch hardtop option was added for 1995; the model sat out 1996 but returned for 1997. After that, changes to American safety standards would have required airbags, an expense Land Rover couldn’t justify for the low-volume vehicle. All told, a little over 7,500 North American Spec Defenders were sold between 1993 and 1997. While those numbers may not seem significant in the grand scheme, simply selling the Defender alongside the Range Rover and the Discovery helped round out the company’s image. The Defender may have been dealership


set dressing to some extent, but it brought shoppers in the door, many of whom probably landed on a more practical Discovery instead. Perhaps more importantly, the Defender helped to authenticate Land Rover’s reputation at a time when Ford was practically giving away Eddie Bauer Explorers and Jeep was peddling countless high-spec Grand Cherokee Limited models. Even today the Defender continues to sell new Land Rovers — and countless other high-end products if you get the right catalogs — by association alone, it’s that powerful an icon for the brand. Here’s a deeper look at the all too brief history of the Defender in North America.

1993 Defender 110 NAS The Defender 110 NAS was previewed to the press in January 1992 at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit, but it was not actually displayed to the public. The company announced that sales would begin in August of that year. Orders streamed in from notable celebrities and other high-profile buyers who didn’t want to miss out on being one of 500, and deliveries began on time later in the summer.


All 500 of these Defenders (535 actually, counting the 25 for Canada plus one prototype and another 9 pre-production models) were identically equipped. Under the hood was a 3.9-liter V8 that produced 180 hp and 227 lbft of torque. This was backed up to a 5-speed manual gearbox exclusively, Land Rover’s own LT77S. Power was split between the front and rear axles by a gear-driven transfer box, the LT230, with both high- and low-range ratios and an open but lockable center differential, allowing for smooth full-time four-wheel drive. The suspension consisted of live axles front and rear, controlled by tall coil springs and separate shock absorbers. Up front a conventional Panhard rod located the axle laterally, while radius arms managed the vertical travel. The rear suspension was similar, but a center-mounted A-frame acted in place of the Panhard rod. The front axle used the traditional Land Rover swivel-ball constant velocity joints to transmit power smoothly while turning. Four-wheel disc brakes were standard, but ABS wasn’t offered. Tires were skinny 7.5 x 16 Michelin X off-roaders. Alpine White was the lone color option, and

it was applied to the roof rack and the 16-inch steel wheels as well. Nevertheless, one notable customer talked Land Rover into painting his Defender black before completing his order. You can make those sorts of demands when your name is Ralph Lauren. In addition to the integral roof rack, NAS 110s were also fitted with a rear ladder to access the roof and its standard, removable, full-length roof basket. Up front, a full-width brush guard protected the grille and wrapped around to defend the front fenders and lights from damage. The spare tire was mounted directly to the rear door, just above the factory receiver tow hitch. Lighting was made DOT compliant with the addition of rectangular side reflectors on the body and amber front running lights adjacent to the headlights. The front bumper also contained rectangular turn signals, while out back the NAS model received a cluster of rectangular lamps in place of the Rest of the World (ROW) models’ individual round lamps. A single reverse lamp was mounted in the driver’s side cluster. Inside, the American-spec Defender 110s all featured nine-passenger seating: two individual


seats up front, three places on the secondrow bench, and four individual inward-facing positions in the cargo area, all with seatbelts and trimmed in gray houndstooth Moorland cloth. Between the two front seats was a lockable center storage bin that also contained a Clarion AM/FM/cassette stereo that played through four door-mounted speakers. Gray carpeting was standard, a major upgrade over the rubber mats found in European models, and the headliner was finished in felt. The passenger’s side of the dashboard contained three round analog gauges, unique to NAS models. These included an analog clock plus an oil pressure gauge and an ammeter. Air conditioning was standard, blowing through dash-mounted vents. Despite this apparent luxury, Land Rover still saw fit to equip them all with electric windshield defrosters as well to keep the view ahead clear regardless of humidity. All North American Defender 110s were issued a numbered plaque mounted to the right of the rear cargo door, indicating their sequential build number. The nine preproduction models were unnumbered. All of this could be yours for just $39,900,


“Land Rover decided to try out a more conventional option for the follow-up, this time a softtop Defender 90.”



or roughly $5,000 less than a luxuriously equipped Range Rover of the same year. While there were enough takers to clear the showrooms, they didn’t all fly out the door immediately. Some retailers still had examples in stock well into 1993.

1994 Defender 90 NAS The NAS 110 proved there was enough interest in a basic 4x4 at a premium price. To honor its one-and-done promise on the fullspec Defender, Land Rover switched things up the following year by bringing the Defender back in a completely different configuration. While the 110 was a high-spec hand-built special, the company decided to try out a more conventional option for the follow-up, this time a softtop Defender 90. The same basic mechanical package sat beneath the more compact body. The V8 gained a couple horsepower and five lb-ft of torque thanks to a revised piston design. Unlike the 110, the sportier Defender 90 was issued front and rear anti-roll bars to control chassis sway. In place of the steel wheels, the D90 got 16-inch Freestyle Choice fivespoke alloys mounted inside fatter 265/75R16 BFGoodrich M/T rubber, though these were cast aside mid-year in favor of All-Terrain tires once owners complained of the road noise. Toward the end of the 1994 production run, Land Rover began fitting Defenders with a heavier-duty 5-speed transmission, the R380. This box featured improved synchros

for smoother shifting and is identifiable by its revised shift pattern, which placed reverse in the back-right position instead of the LT77’s forward-left spot. While the 110 featured full-framed doors and a steel roof to keep the outside out, the 90 was delivered more like a beach runner. Half doors were fitted, bearing no framework for windows; there were also no surface-mounted door handles, just internal latches accessed through an opening in the door panel. A four-point roll bar was installed behind the front seats, and the only other standard cockpit protection was a tonneau cover for the interior and cargo area. A fastback top was an optional accessory, stretching from the windshield over the roll bar and down to the floor behind the two front seats — the only two seats, actually. With no roof to help manage any sort of cockpit climate, air conditioning was left off the standard equipment list, though it could still be optioned. Likewise, the expensive heated windscreen was omitted in favor of standard glass. Charcoal-colored PVC twill upholstery promised resistance to the elements, though rear seats were entirely optional, consisting of a forward-facing bench for seating two additional passengers. Rubber mats covered the floor space instead of the somewhat industrial carpet of the D110, and the locking center console still housed the radio. The 110’s additional gauges went away, leaving behind open storage bins. 75

On the outside, the 1994 soft top carried over the 1993 station wagon’s American lighting configuration, with rectangular lamp clusters in back as well as in-set into the front bumper. The fixed running boards remained in place, but the front brush guard was now optional. Out back, the spare tire sat suspended from a body-mounted swing-away tire carrier, completely free from the tailgate. The base price for the Defender 90 was a more approachable $27,900 in basic form, but Land Rover had no problem selling accessories for any taste or lifestyle. One of the most popular options was the full-length softtop from Tickford, which also required the full-length safari roll cage. The payoff was a window-for-window match to the hardtop models sold elsewhere in the world, right down to the Alpine windows. With the Tickford top installed, a driver and passengers could reasonable expect to arrive at their destination dry, at least on sunny days. In fact, it was known for being so tight that some owners later fitted tops from other makers so they could more easily go from top down to top up, or vice versa. Another popular top option was the Surrey top, a full-length cover also designed to work with the extended roll cage, but without windows. Weighing in at just 3,560 pounds (nearly 1,000 pounds lighter than a standard Range Rover), the V8-powered shorty was something of a rocket in its day. Without much in the way of creature comforts, it was also about as far


from a Range Rover as you could get while sharing so much hardware. Nevertheless, Four Wheeler magazine loved it for its rugged simplicity and named it their Four Wheeler of the Year. A total of 1,943 examples of the Defender 90 were built for North America as 1994 models. A late run of 100 special editions were painted Beluga Black and fitted with leather upholstery, along with a stainless steel A-bar on the front bumper and matching running boards. The Surrey top was standard issue on these special editions. Another late-run anomaly was a batch of 65 with removable hardtops, all painted Coniston Green. Though not technically a special edition, this small batch is unique, as the hardtops were neither the fiberglass accessory top that Land Rover would introduce for 1995 nor the full factory station wagon top offered elsewhere in the world. Instead, they used a factory aluminum conversion hardtop. This top utilized a folding upper tailgate in combination with the Soft Top’s standard swinging lower tailgate. All 65 trucks were imported as Soft Tops but had their roofs installed at the port of entry before they were sent to dealerships. As a result, they’re often referred to as Port of Entry or P.O.E. Hard Tops.

1995 Defender 90 NAS For 1995, Land Rover refined its offerings for the Defender line. The V8 engine remained unchanged, and the only transmission was still a 5-speed manual, in this case the R380 that had been introduced at the end of 1994. Minor improvements came in the form of new wiring harnesses that featured weatherproof connectors. The Defender also benefitted from an engine immobilizer, making the vulnerable open-top trucks less easy to steal. One thing the company was beginning to understand, however, was that even hardy outdoorsmen like a break from the weather once in a while. So North America finally got a proper hardtop option. The Defender 90 Soft Top soldiered on largely unchanged, except for revised lighting clusters that brought it more in line with Rest of the World (ROW) appearances. That meant round individual lamps in the rear and the omission of embedded turn signals in the front bumper. At $28,650, the ’95 Soft Top

retained the previous year’s twill-effect vinyl upholstery and minimalist interior protection in standard form. It did, however, gain storage pockets behind the front seats and in the door panels. The big news was the 90 Station Wagon, a proper hardtop in the tradition of the Defender 110 before it. In addition to the fixed aluminum roof with Alpine windows, the Station Wagon also featured a full swinging rear cargo door complete with heated glass and a wiper/washer system. The top also featured a pop-up sunroof in front and sliding side windows in the rear, while the doors were fully framed and included roll-up windows. Regardless of exterior color (Alpine White, Arles Blue, Consiton Green) the roof of each Station Wagon was painted white. Full carpeting was standard on the Station Wagon. The seating was finished in the same gray houndstooth cloth as used in the Defender 110, while two inward-facing rear benches were also standard, accommodating up to four additional people. Although air conditioning remained optional, the Defender 90 in full grown-up trim punched the till at just $32,000, a mere $3,350 more than the bonebasic Soft Top. A total of 1,190 Soft Top D90s were built to North American spec as 1995 models. The Station Wagon, for all its added value and protection, was limited to just 510 examples. There were no special editions of the Defender for 1995.

1997 Defender 90 NAS It’s been suggested that Land Rover missed out on selling the Defender in North America in 1996 because it anticipated changes to U.S. safety regulations for that year that would have made the vehicle impossible to sell. It’s also been said the company was just delaying until they had the automatic transmission ready for market. Either way, the Defender sat out 1996 but came back big for 1997. Once again, the venerable V8 returned to the lineup unchanged, but for ’97 it was hitched exclusively to the ZF 4-speed automatic transmission the company had used seemingly forever in the Range Rover as well as the Discovery, divided front and rear by the trusty LT230 transfer box. Changes otherwise were few and mostly beneath the surface. The air conditioning 77

system, still optional across the board, was revised for better airflow, while the instruments were now electronic instead of mechanically driven, a digital odometer giving away the change. More obvious was the new center console that featured, what else, cupholders. The Soft Top finally got a bit more serious with a standard full-length safari roll cage and complete cloth top. The Station Wagon returned for 1997 unchanged from before except for the improvements noted above. With the beefy ZF automatic now the only transmission, pricing rose to $32,000 for the improved Soft Top while the Station Wagon climbed modestly to $34,500. There was one special edition for 1997, the Defender 90 LE. These were the final 300 Defenders to be officially imported into the United States by Land Rover. Each one was a Station Wagon finished in Willow Green and fully outfitted with Land Rover off-road accessories. Equipped essentially the same as the 1993 Defender 110, Land Rover threw the accessories catalog at the last run, including the roof rack, access ladders, front light guards, spare tire cover and countless other bits. The D90 LE, as equipped, came in at a somewhat heady $40,000. The automatic seemed to be the key to opening up the Defender to new buyers, as 2,799 examples were sold, making 1997 the strongest year ever. But it was too little, too late. Starting in 1998, Federal safety standards were finally going to mandate at least a driver’s airbag in all new passenger vehicles. Given the low volume of Defender sales in North America, Land Rover just couldn’t justify developing and certifying a new safety system exclusively for one small market. As proof, the last Defender ever built rolled off the line without an airbag — and that was in 2016, nearly 20 years later.

BUYING ONE TODAY While the North American-spec Defender may have been something of a tough sales proposition when new, the passage of years has bred desire. The low production numbers for NAS models, combined with the fact Land Rover ended Defender production entirely, has only made these models more valuable. In fact, a Defender 90 NAS in reasonable condition can command as much as its original


MSRP most days, and restored examples fetch perhaps a 50-percent premium on top of that. The 110 NAS is in a different league altogether, with clean, original examples typically asking twice their original sticker price. Nevertheless, there are always North American Defenders in the marketplace (they’re too valuable to scrap), and the occasional bargain still pops up from time to time. While no one wants to overpay, the lure of a cheap Defender can also have an unwitting new buyer emptying his wallet quickly after purchase. Though seemingly simple in their construction, they were time-intensive to build new, which means lots of labor is involved in restoring them. And at this stage, just about all of them are in need of some form of rework. Most of the Defender’s issues are structural. The aluminum bodywork doesn’t rust but often belies a fragile, crumbling foundation beneath it. A seemingly straight truck often lures the novice buyer, who only later discovers the daunting imperfection under the surface. Fortunately, the mechanicals are pretty reliable, and there are numerous resources for

new parts and trim to keep on old Defender rolling. Patient, mechanically adept home hobbyists can take care of most Defender repairs and restoration projects on their own. However, if you have to hire out your work, particularly restoration-level jobs, make sure you find yourself not just a Land Rover specialist but a Defender specialist. Reputable companies include East Coast Rover in Maine, Safari HP in Florida, and Defenders Northwest in Washington State. Here are some of the major issues a prospective Defender might encounter.

Chassis rot Land Rover built the Defender on top of a very conventional steel ladder frame, a design with roots going back to 1948 and the first production Series One. Unfortunately, the frame is so traditional that it’s not even galvanized. The factory painted the chassis as a form of rust inhibition, but given the extreme duty and harsh conditions in which many Defender owners used their vehicles, this was 78

never more than a temporary measure at best. Frame rot is not a localized problem on the Defender; it can appear anywhere, and once it’s started there’s no stopping the spread. Suspension mounts and the outriggers where the body attaches often see greater stress than the main chassis members, and once the corrosion begins, these are usually the first areas to fatigue. The good news is that complete new chassis are available from a number of UK-based manufacturers and U.S. retailers. Better still, the new ones can be ordered galvanized and then before reassembly can be further rust proofed with hard-wearing urethane chassis paints. Expect to spend in the neighborhood of five grand for a fresh chassis, but if you do it right it will probably be the last one you’ll have to buy. On the off chance you find a well-kept vehicle from a Southwestern climate, rust will be less of an issue. Replacement chassis components like outriggers are available for more localized repairs on otherwise salvageable frames.


Bulkhead rot The only other major steel structure on the Defender is the firewall (in Land Rover terms, the bulkhead). This complex stamping incorporates the vertical firewall, the forward footwells, the door supports, and the windshield base. The basic design is also an evolution of the Series vehicles, right down to the cowl vents that allow fresh air to enter between the bottom of the windshield and the top of the hood. The vents are operated directly by knobs in the dashboard; the action is a simple pivot with locking detents to control the flow. It’s a wholly antiquated ventilation system with predictably modest success at keeping the elements outside when closed. And therein lies the biggest issue with the bulkhead. Water pushes past the seals on the vents and makes its way downward. Wherever moisture travels in the bulkhead, it eventually leads to rust. The vent openings are a good place to start looking for exposure to water; rusted openings and damaged or missing seals on the flaps

almost certainly means a repair or replacement is in order. However, a close inspection of the floor is even more telling, as water from any number of sources — wet shoes, rain, snow — can eat at the lower section of the bulkhead. Depending on the location and extent of the rust, it may be possible to repair sections of the bulkhead and preserve as much of the original piece as possible. Replacing the bulkhead with a complete new piece will be costly, not just because it’s an expensive piece to reproduce, but also because there are few (and dwindling) pieces available. Later-model non-NAS Defenders got a solid bulkhead that eliminated the troublesome fresh air vents. Some restorers and customizers prefer this option even though it’s not period correct. Not only does it significantly reduce the opportunity for water to enter the cabin, these parts are also more readily available. Replacing the bulkhead is no small undertaking, however, as it serves as the cornerstone for all the other bodywork as well as the dashboard. Given the amount of labor


required to change the bulkhead, it is often done as part of a larger restoration or overhaul project, since so much of the truck has to come apart in the process.

Bimetallic corrosion Are you noticing a trend yet? Essentially, wherever there is steel on a Defender, you’re going to get corrosion. The combination of steel substructures and aluminum bodywork creates its own unique problems, most evident in the doors. Beneath the aluminum door skins of every Defender lies a doorframe made of simple square steel stock. Like the other steel components found in the truck, the doorframes are somewhat protected from corrosion before they’re wrapped in shiny aluminum sheetmetal in the factory’s body plant. Wherever steel and aluminum come together and water is introduced, chemistry takes over. The water serves as a catalyst between the two metals, introducing oxygen. The resulting reaction oxidizes the aluminum,


creating a chalky blister beneath the paint. This is usually most obvious at the bottoms of the doors, typically near the corners. Another place where this bimetallic corrosion pops up is at the door hinges. Again, the aluminum door skin reacts with the steel mounting bolts and hinge blocks, creating corrosion at these contact points. New doors are the proper remedy. Replacing the outer skins is also an option, as the doorframes can often be cleaned up and repaired if they haven’t rotted away completely. Aftermarket door hinges are available in aluminum, either bare or powdercoated, to eliminate the bimetallic nature of the issue, requiring stainless steel hardware for mounting.

Water leaks Aside from just the bulkhead, water has a way of finding itself into other rather porous junctions. On station wagons, the seals around the windows are notoriously weak, the glass rattling in its channels often the first clue that it’s not watertight. The floor panels also allow water in from underneath, as the aluminum panels aren’t welded or sealed but rather assembled edge to edge. Some of that water may find its way to the footwell, contributing to rust. Otherwise, it leaves the carpet or floor mats wet, making moisture a constant element inside.

Power steering leaks Like all Land Rovers of this era, the power steering system is happiest when it’s wet — on the outside. The power steering lines commonly weep at their fittings, and the steering gear assembly is also notoriously “sweaty.” All of these components usually relieve themselves at the left front corner of the vehicle, a telltale dot on the ground serving as proof there’s still fluid in the reservoir. Or at least there was. Check this regularly to avoid having to replace the steering box or power steering pump, but you should probably get used to the sight of hydraulic fluid on anything related to the steering system.

Electrical system Go ahead and joke about it all you want. The Defender is a classic British vehicle, right down to its wiring. With that come all of the expected random component outages and

intermittent gremlins. Corrosion on connectors is a very common condition, especially on pre-1995 models. Under BMW’s ownership in the ’90s, electrical hardware became more substantial, the much-improved weatherproof electrical connectors being one such example. Still, other components remained on the British standard, like the headlight switch, which is integral to the power circuit and often burns out simply from the load it carries. Just upgrading the headlight bulbs to higher wattage will require the addition of a relayed wiring harness to prevent this delicate switch from melting down. A good first project for a new Defender owner would be going through the vehicle and checking for good ground contacts as well as other electrical connectors and components for corrosion and broken/fatigued connectors. The relative simplicity and lack of electrical accessories makes rewiring or repairing a Defender’s electrical system a fairly straightforward affair.

AFTERMARKET OFFERINGS The Defender is the quintessential have-ityour-own-way Land Rover. There’s hardly a component that can’t be upgraded to suit any owner’s taste. Modifications range from the practical (brush guards and additional lighting) to the preposterous (diamondquilted leather seating, anyone?). Regardless of your pleasure, there’s probably an option for the Defender.

Wheels and tires The factory equipped all NAS Defenders with 16-inch wheels. This is a matter of practicality, as they all featured large disc brakes both front and rear. The Defender shares its bolt pattern (5 on 6.5”) with the Range Rover Classic and Discovery I. The aftermarket also offers a number of off-road alloys and NATOstyle steel wheels in this fitment, though almost all are 16-inchers as well. That said, off-road enthusiasts should find no reason to go larger. Suitable tire options are becoming harder to find in the 265/75R16 factory size, but owners can often find more choices by going slightly oversize. The rolling diameter in stock form is about 31.5 inches, and you can safely upgrade to about 33 inches of diameter


before worrying about body contact with the rubber necessitating a suspension lift.

Suspension and Chassis Here again, the options are limited only by your budget and performance expectations. A common suspension upgrade is to lift the vehicle two inches, allowing for up to 35-inch tires while maintaining reasonable on-road handling. Taller suspension kits are also available for more specific trail duty, though street performance will suffer considerably. Heavy-duty shock absorbers, radius arms, bushings, and steering stabilizers are primarily geared toward off-roading. Beefier differentials and locking diffs are also popular options for trail rigs. Skid plates and diff covers are available from countless vendors in aluminum or steel to protect those vital driveline components.

Bodywork The aluminum bodywork on the Defender leaves it vulnerable to damage when used hard. Reinforced diamond-plate panels are often fitted to more fragile locations, such as the tops of the front fenders and hood so they can be used as step surfaces (often used by more serious adventurers to access the roof rack). Rock sliders can replace the factory running boards, while the standard bumpers can be upgraded with heavy-duty pieces better able to handle rocks and trees. Racks and accessories can be added in place of the factory units. A number of companies also offer less expensive or easier fitting roofs for the Defender 90 Soft Top models.

Lighting Like the Range Rover Classic, the Defender was fitted with 7.0-inch sealed beam halogen headlamps. At this stage, a number of aftermarket companies have produced DOTcompliant LED replacement lamps that are essentially plug and play. Not only do they produce much better light than the halogen lamps, they also draw far less power, reducing stress on your delicate headlight switch without having to rewire the circuit. Auxiliary lighting options are boundless today, ranging from classic Hellas in either halogen or HID, as well as newer, more compact housings using LED technology.


1993 - 1997 DEFENDER – NORTH AMERICA SPEC Dimensions and Capacities Wheelbase (in.) Overall Length (in.) Overall Height (in.) Overall Width (in.) Front Track (in.) Rear Track (in.) Body Type Contruction Curb Weight (lbs.) Turning Circle (ft.) Approach Angle (deg) Breakover Angle (deg) Departure Angle (deg) Ground Clearance (in.) Max Wading Depth (in.) Wheels Wheel Size Std. Tire Size Engine Type Displacement (cc) Valvetrain Valves/Cylinder Power (hp@rpm) Torque (lb-ft@rpm) EPA Economy (Cty/Hwy) Fuel Capacity (Gal) Towing Capacity (lbs.) Transmission Type Transfer Case Suspension Front Rear Brakes Type Interior Seating Capacity

110 NAS (1993) 110.0 181.1 81.3 70.5 90.0 90.0 Aluminum/Steel Body on Frame 4848 42 50 28 26 8.5 20

90 NAS (1994-95) 92.9 160.5 80.2 70.5 58.5 58.5 Aluminum/Steel Body on Frame 3560-3913 40 51 34 35 9.0 20

90 NAS (1997) 92.9 160.5 80.2 70.5 58.5 58.5 Aluminum/Steel Body on Frame 3560-3913 40 51 34 35 9.0 20

16.0 x 6.5 Steel 7.5 x 16

16.0 x 7.0 Alloy 267/75R16

16.0 x 7.0 Alloy 267/75R16

V8 Gasoline 3947 OHV Pushrod 2 180@4750 227@3500 10/12 20.4 7700/5000

V8 Gasoline 3947 OHV Pushrod 2 182@4750 232@3100 13/16 15.6 5000/3500

V8 Gasoline 3947 OHV Pushrod 2 182@4750 232@3100 14/15 15.6 5000/3500

5 Speed Manual Hi/Lo, CDL

5 Speed Manual Hi/Lo, CDL

4 Speed Automatic Hi/Lo, CDL

Coil Springs, Radius Arms Coil Springs, Radius Arms

Coil Springs, Radius Arms Coil Springs, Radius Arms

Coil Springs, Radius Arms Coil Springs, Radius Arms

4-wheel disc

4-wheel disc

4-wheel disc




81 • 202-656-9749 •

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RECOVERY BY JACK That jack on your rack is more than just a lifting device. WORDS Steve Hoare PHOTOS Staff


ne of the least expensive, most versatile pieces of equipment you should have in your recovery arsenal is a ratcheting utility jack. Old-timers might call it a “handyman” jack, but today you’re more likely to know it simply as a “hi-lift.” Both Hi-Lift® and Handyman® are trademarked brand names as well as generic terms for a whole class of copycat jacks, but whatever their origins, in the off-roading world they’re as ubiquitous as power winches—and arguably are the more useful tool. A rugged device thanks to its simplicity, the basic design goes back more than 100 years and over time has received a mere handful of modest improvements. Highly reliable and fully serviceable, the modern version of this type of jack is, when used properly, an extremely useful piece of kit. As a vehicle jack, one of its major advantages is extended range of operation over your vehicle’s typical compact, standard-equipment jack. The basic bottle jack in your Land Rover

tool kit is designed to provide enough lift to raise a tire on level ground off the pavement for a typical tire change. That amounts to a matter of just a few inches. In contrast, the HiLift® jack we’re using to illustrate this article comes in lengths ranging from 36 to 60 inches and is a must for vehicles with modifications that make a factory jack essentially useless, including lifted suspensions or taller tires. Unlike that factory jack, a ratcheting utility jack can apply force in either direction; that is, it can spread or compress. Also, the jacking head accepts a variety of attachments to greatly expand its versatility and functionality. Further accessories convert the basic ratcheting capability of its simple vertical action to uses ranging from a hand-operated winch to a tire-dismounting tool. In many ways, the Hi-Lift is the Swiss Army Knife® of your off-road recovery kit. Below are some of the ways to get the most out of perhaps the most useful tool you’ll own for serious offroading. 83

“Unlike your factory jack, a utility jack can apply force in either direction and also accepts a variety of attachments to greatly expand its versatility.”


CONVENTIONAL VEHICLE JACK The jack has the ability to lift through an extremely high range, allowing you to lift out of deep ruts or to clear large obstacles on the trail. Depending on the placement of the vehicle and access to jacking points, there are a number of ways to lift the vehicle vertically. You should always seek the most solid footing on which to position the jack, keeping in mind the direction the vehicle will shift once it becomes lifted. The standard jack base will work well on hard-packed trail and asphalt, but softer surfaces like sand or gravel will require a jacking pad with a broader footprint. Plastic base plates are available from Hi-Lift (as well as from other jack manufacturers), but in a pinch a sturdy piece of lumber or plywood can offer improved footing as well. Be careful when using logs or stones found on the trail, as they could shift or disintegrate under the vehicle’s weight once lifted.

For a tire change, you’ll want to lift from a solid chassis attachment point. This could be a frame rail, a heavy-duty bumper (not the factory bumpers, however), heavy-duty rock sliders, or the receiver hitch. Avoid lifting at suspension points, however, as these components may shift, especially when torquing wheels off or on. Lifting the vehicle at these points can also be effective extricating the front or rear of the vehicle out of trail ruts, or lifting an axle, differential, or chassis member high-centered on logs, stumps, or rocks. Once elevated, rocks or logs can be placed under the wheels to raise the vehicle off the obstacle. Otherwise, the vehicle can be intentionally pushed laterally on the jack to shift it sideways in order to clear the obstacles below. Before pushing the vehicle off the jack, however, be sure there are no other obstacles the vehicle will fall upon. In tight spaces with no room 84

to turn around, it is also possible to use the jack in the same way to turn a vehicle around within its own length. One particular application where the extended range of the Hi-Lift is ideal is using it to raise the vehicle high enough to reseat unbound coil springs when they become unseated from overflexing. As previously mentioned, be sure the vehicle is fully secured before getting anywhere near the vehicle. Under no circumstances should you perform service operations beneath the vehicle without the jack and vehicle being fully supported.

VEHICLE WINCHING For any number of reasons, your truck can become stuck on the trail. It’s one of the challenges we enjoy about exploring off-road. A power winch is an ideal companion in these situations, but not everyone is equipped with one, and sometimes they just aren’t reliable.


In these situations, a Hi-Lift can be used as a manual winch. As with power winching, you’ll need to find a sturdy anchor point on which to attach winching straps or chains. This could be a tree, a boulder, a thick post, or even a ground anchor. The other end of your rigging needs to be securely attached to a chassis point on the vehicle, such as a recovery hook or fixed chassis member. Be sure any recovery gear is rated for at least the total weight of the vehicle; 8,000 pounds or more is a typical recommendation. When rigging up for a pull, be sure to start with as much slack taken out of the straps and chains; a loose set-up will just waste manual effort. Kinetic rope is also less than ideal, as it will stretch with the pull and waste your precious effort. This type of winching is extremely slow, as each crank moves the rack just a couple inches. It’s possible you may run the entire length of the rack before dislodging the vehicle, requiring you to re-rig and continue the pull. If you have to do this, secure the vehicle first to make sure it doesn’t roll back before re-rigging the set-up for the next pull.

LEVERAGING OBSTACLES Sometimes an obstacle on the trail is too big to bypass, even with the aid of winching. If you can’t move around the obstacle, sometimes the only course of action is to move the obstacle itself. Much like vehicle winching, you can use the jack’s mechanical advantage to move obstacles too heavy to move using your legs and back alone. The procedure is similar to winching a vehicle, except you’ll be securing one end of your rigging to the obstacle to be moved. Once it’s anchored at both ends, you can ratchet the jack to reposition the obstruction far enough that you can pass by with the vehicle. If the obstruction is elevated or positioned on a slope, be aware that it may be prone

OPPOSITE Jack inserted directly into heavy-duty bumper. Once lifted, the vehicle can be pivoted sideways on the jack, repositioning the front end to avoid obstacles in the original path. ABOVE, TOP TO BOTTOM As a ground winch, removing a tree from the trail; lifting from the wheel to improve traction beneath the tire; attached to the steering arm to straighten trail damage.



to rolling away once freed. Make sure the material being moved is properly secured and that all bystanders or other vehicles are out of the path should the material become freed unexpectedly.

TIRE BEAD BREAKING Changing a tire or re-beading one on the trail is never a fun task, but sometimes it’s necessary to get out of the woods or sand. Your Hi-Lift can actually be used to unseat a tire from a rim, allowing you to insert a tire iron to begin your repair. Simply position the jack tongue to push down on the tire wall at the bead to break it free. The same procedure can be used to reset a tire when reinstalling, or as a helping hand when running the tire iron around the circumference of the rim.

TRAIL TOOL Any number of components can become damaged unexpectedly on the trail, and a utility jack can be handy for improvising

repairs. Used as a winch, for instance, the jack can straighten bent steering rods. More serious repairs, such as gearbox removal, can be assisted by using a Hi-Lift to spread the chassis to release the gearbox cross member. In an even more extreme situation, the jack’s rack can even be used as a makeshift trailing arm.

CARE AND MAINTENANCE Heavy-duty ratcheting jacks demand very little maintenance. However, as with any piece of kit, they benefit from periodic care and maintenance. A new jack may require some minor preparation before its first use. Depending on the brand and quality of manufacture, some jacks may have some residual metal burrs or paint runs. Give the jack a once-over with steel wool or glass paper. Run the jack through its range to ensure smooth operation before installing it on the vehicle. Spray the pin mechanism with light oil


or grease and cover the mechanism with a jack cover to limit its exposure to dirt and moisture. Too often owners mount the jack on their vehicle as a trophy and leave it exposed to the elements, sometimes for years. When it comes to use the jack, the pins and hinges are seized and rusted, making the jack extremely dangerous if not inoperable. Mount the jack on the outside of vehicle, ideally at a point higher than typical wading depths and shielded from mud. Roof racks can be a good mounting option. Vertical mounting near the roof ladder or on an external spare tire are also popular. Just make sure the jack won’t interfere with normal vehicle functions, such as opening the rear door. Keep a spare set of pins and springs in the vehicle. They offer cheap insurance when you may need it most.

ABOVE Applying downward force to a deflated tire to break its bead.



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Follow Our LED Forget everything you know about candles and watts. Relative to other major automotive systems, lighting technology has progressed at a comparatively slow pace, with few advances—though each of those steps forward was extremely significant. Early on, gas lamps were perched here and there, carried over from the days when automobiles still shared the roads with horse-drawn carriages. Then came the great leap with incandescent lighting, which is still the dominant technology—except for the headlights. There’s a little more to the story when it comes to forward lighting. The advent of tungstenhalogen bulbs in the 1960s improved lighting efficiency and produced a brilliant white light ideal for headlamps and foglamps. By the 1990s, high-intensity discharge (HID) lamps produced even more light with less energy, and without a metal filament to burn up they promised longer life as well. Because they were also expensive, the signature blue cast they threw became a status symbol, at least for the 18-24 demographic. But while the aftermarket was scrambling to make HID retrofit kits for Civics and Jettas, the industry was already onto the next big thing, LEDs. Light-emitting diodes were first developed in the early 1960s and initially were used in small electronic devices. Their first automotive application was in the compact brake lights used for the center high-mounted module that became mandatory on passenger cars in 1986. It wasn’t until the turn of the twenty-first century, however, that the technology was adapted for use in headlights. Think of LEDs as the new HIDs. Naturally, the technology has spilled over into the aftermarket, where every lighting manufacturer worth its salt is producing replacement and auxiliary lamps for every application it can. But what exactly is an LED, and is there any benefit to spending the money to upgrade an older vehicle? More importantly, is it safe or even legal to retrofit LED bulbs to lamps not originally designed for them? 88


The Humble LED

Understanding light output

Without going all Bill Nye on you, a light-emitting diode is a small electrical device that produces light when energy passes between an anode (+) and a cathode (-), releasing photons, or light energy. This phenomenon is called electroluminescence, and depending on the type of semiconductor material present when those photons are released, the diode can produce visible light in a variety of colors. All of this is typically encapsulated in a solid epoxy capsule and mounted to a tiny printed circuit board. The resulting LED cells are about the size of a Tic-Tac candy. While these are exceptionally compact compared to any conventional light bulb, each individual cell produces only a small amount of light. To match a traditional light bulb’s output with LEDs requires an array of cells managed by a control device and their “beams” focused with optics. Because LEDs are solid-state devices, they are extremely durable; there is no bulb to break, no noble gas to escape, no filament to wear out. They are also highly efficient, producing up to four times the amount of light as a halogen bulb on the same power consumption. With sophisticated control systems, or “light engines,” LEDs can also be programmed to generate a spectrum of colors by combining red, green and blue light in various amounts, just like your television screen. The effects can range widely, from mood lighting to shooting a beam at Alpha Centauri, which, without going all Neil deGrasse Tyson on you, would reach stargazers there in 4.367 light years. LEDs also offer a lot of design flexibility, because the arrays can be arranged to conform to complex surfaces. Razzle-dazzle aside, the most important advantage of LEDs over HIDs—and the significant advance forward they represent—is their exceptionally bright light that more accurately resembles natural daylight and thus makes it easier for our eyes to perceive shapes and colors. Like most new technologies, LED lights aren’t without their drawbacks. First is cost. They have long been the most expensive commercially available option for lighting (though that honor now goes to lasers), which is why they are still found mostly on higher-end vehicles. Second is aesthetics. Depending on how the individual cells are arranged, they can either open up a world of creative design or look like tacky rhinestone jewelry. Again like most new technologies, not all LEDs are created equal. Poorly designed optics may look bright at the source but can scatter light all over the place, putting it where you don’t need it and creating a hazard to other drivers. Cheaply made LEDs may actually discolor over time depending on the materials used to make the components. And since they require a control device, many cheaper lamps produce less consistent light in extreme temperatures. It’s often assumed LEDs don’t generate heat, but that’s not the case at all. While they don’t generally get hot to the touch, that’s because the heat is reflected in the opposite direction of the light output rather than radiated forward like other lighting types (I won’t go all Thomas Edison on you as to why this is). As a result, a good heat sink is essential, along with adequate airflow around the heat sink to dissipate the energy.

Now that we’ve all reviewed Lighting 101, let’s move on to how much light a given lamp produces. First you’ll need to understand how to compare light outputs. Most of us are used to ratings like watts or candlepower, but if you’ve shopped for LED lighting you’ve no doubt come across Lumens. How many Lumens in a watt? A simple conversion isn’t necessarily going to give the results you’re looking for. First, you need to forget all about wattage, which is actually a measure of energy consumption, not light output. If you’ve ever compared an incandescent bulb to a halogen bulb of the same wattage, you’ll know the light output isn’t the same even though each consumes the same amount of energy. Simply put, wattage is a factor when considering load but doesn’t directly indicate light output. Now that your minds are clear and receptive, I’m going to go all H.G. Wells on you and time-travel us over to England in 1860. Science is nothing without accurate measurement, and the best science could do at the time was measure light output in units called candlepower, which defined the luminous intensity of a very specific candle over a set period of time. The Brits had their candles, but other countries established different standards based on other fuels being consumed. The English candlepower unit was essentially standardized in 1948 by the SI unit known as the Candela. Though 1.0 Candela actually works out to 0.981 candlepower, the two units have traditionally been used interchangeably, and the term candlepower has survived on the basis of familiarity. Yes, I know, you feel less enlightened on the subject than when we began, but finally we’re onto Lumens, another international standard that takes into account the total light output at a spherical source. When you look directly at a 1.0 Candela light source, you’re seeing only the light that’s visible to you from that perspective. (Yeah, it sounds like Schrodinger’s lighting to me, too.) Lumens account for all the light produced, whether it’s visible to you or not. As a result, 1.0 Candela = 12.57 Lumens. So that’s roughly how you get from candlepower to Lumens. But that only accounts for brilliance (light at the source) and not illuminance (how much area is covered in light). The unit of measure that defines illuminance is known as the Lux, which equals one Lumen of light spread across one square meter. But again, this is only at the source. Chances are if you’re buying headlights or driving lights, you want to know how much of that light you’re throwing down the road. That’s where optics come in, and it’s why you can’t rely on Lumens alone as an indicator of a lamp’s function. Before you decide that going back to gas lamps might be easier than cracking this newfangled technology, let’s get back to the comfortable familiarity of your TV. A full white screen is bright when you’re standing in front of it but isn’t very effective at casting that light very far (one reason why late-night television viewing has had little impact on the birthrate). Distance is therefore the final factor. After all, a lamp that produces 10,000 Lux (or 10,000 Lumens X 1 square meter) at the source will not cast 10,000 Lux forward 500 meters down the road. From 500 meters away, the light will be less intense. How much less intense is determined by how the light is channeled and directed with optics.



Choosing the right lamp for your needs Before you start shopping for LED lamps, you’ll need to determine just what it is you want to light up. Do you need a work light that only requires a field 50 feet deep, or are you looking for flamethrowers that will light up a mile of desert nightscape? They all look bright when you stare into them at the outfitter’s shop, which, without going all Dr. Oz on you, probably isn’t the best way to judge, but you will need to know their illuminance at the distance they’ll be expected to cover. Forward vehicle lighting generally comes in four categories: headlights (which have very specific guidelines for light projection), foglights (made to cast light a short distance but low and wide), driving lights (designed to illuminate the full scope of a roadway at distances beyond the range of traditional high-beam headlights), and pencil-beams (longdistance but narrow beams). There are LED applications from a variety of manufacturers that cover all of these, but, again, not all are created with the same quality of materials. Most top manufacturers will publish their illumination patterns (including distances) for reference. They should also be able to provide specs on Lux at standard distances. Examine the quality of the optics (glass vs. plastic lenses, reflector brilliance, lens aperture, etc.) before making a final decision. Better still, see what works in the real world by sitting behind lights already installed on another vehicle. Another consideration is LED replacement bulbs for existing lamps. These will almost always produce more light with less power, but there is no guarantee the light will be accurately projected to where it’s supposed to go. That’s because a lamp deigned for a halogen bulb has reflectors and/or lens patterns optimized to capture the light coming off a wire filament in a very specific location in the housing. LED replacement bulbs are small arrays of cells on a central circuit board. Because the individual elements are often spaced apart and situated typically on flat

surfaces, the light output is less even, resulting in hot (bright) spots and cool (dark) spots on the road ahead. Be aware that even though some of these may be “direct-fit” replacements, it doesn’t make them DOT compliant. With forward lighting, you’ll also want to consider color temperature, indicated by the lamp’s Kelvin rating. Since LEDs can be tuned for color, countless options abound. Natural daylight falls between about 5000 and 6500K, so lamps within that range are easier on our eyes. However, warmer light (in the 3000-3500K range) renders contrast better, with less washout in details. That’s particularly important in low-contrast conditions like fog, snow and rain, explaining the rationale behind yellow foglights (and France’s former requirement for yellow headlights). For task lights, distance is often less of a concern. An LED spotlight is perfect for lighting up the hitch area, for instance, letting you confidently hook up a trailer in the dark. The multiple-array LED light bars made popular in recent years are great for illuminating a campsite or lighting up the trail immediately around the vehicle, making night runs both more exciting and safer. Because of the limitations of their optics, they don’t generally make good forward lights, despite being mounted on the roofs, hoods and front bumpers of many off-road vehicles. They will, however, make a whole lot of light immediately in front of the vehicle, which is fine for trails but a nuisance to other drivers on the road. Finally, there are accessory lights. LED bulbs are sensible upgrades to parking lights, turn signals, license plate lights, and the interior lamps. They’re brighter, use less energy and will probably outlast the vehicle you put them in. Finally, without going all Chief Dan Mathews on you, they also won’t get you in trouble with other drivers or the law. “10-4, 21-50 out.”



Lumens Per Watt Rating

Color Temperature Chart

Beam Patterns




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BREAKING THINGS TO FIX THEM 2000 Discovery II Bryan Joslin

When Alloy+Grit decided to transform my personal Discovery project vehicle into the coveted prize of a reader sweepstakes, the main priority was to enhance its off-road capabilities without sacrificing any of its family-friendly qualities. I’m a big fan of having a vehicle that I can drive every day (for the usual chores assigned to a motorized dad) and then pack up for a weekend away. And while I enjoy getting

out to club trail rides and off-road weekends, I’m more of a traveler than a wheeler. Safety and reliability, though, will be no less important for this build than achieving greater functionality. And the work has already started. As luck or misfortune would have it, just before we started digging into the fun stuff, a weekend in the woods reminded us we should start with a detailed assessment of, well, everything under the Discovery’s skin as well as some much-needed routine maintenance. Bouncing through the Poconos on unimproved trails, it seems, is an excellent way to deform the rear suspension’s Watt’s link bushings as well as untie the front tie rod ends (not a completely accurate description of the problem). Nothing broke on the trail, though. In fact, it was a couple days later before I noticed a clunking sound from the rear suspension when backing up on a gravel driveway. The Disco still tracked straight, but any light lateral movement served an aural reminder that something back there would need to be addressed before any modifications could be installed. The first step was fitting a slew of new 94

suspension bushings from British parts supplier Bearmach, setting a solid foundation for the next phase, a suspension lift. The plan is to install two-inch taller springs in the front and two-inch lift mounts in the rear (so that we can retain the factory rear air springs), along with a set of heavy-duty shock absorbers. Okay, I hear the screaming: “Why in the name of coiled steel would you keep the air springs?” A few reasons. First, I actually prefer the way the Disco rides on airbags. I’ve owned a coil-sprung Disco II as well, and the air springs ride better. Second, both the rear bags were replaced recently with new components from Arnott, and because they were replaced before their slow leaks became gushers, the pump was never overburdened and thus continues to perform reliably. Finally, I really like the functionality of an adjustable suspension, especially on a vehicle that serves multiple duty. When I filled it with 40 boxes of magazines (roughly 1,500 pounds) to drive from upstate New York to Philadelphia, its back end went from a tail-dragger to proud and perky in just a couple minutes. And on the same trip that wrecked my suspension bushings,


I used the air springs’ lift setting to gain a couple extra inches of departure clearance to cross a log without leaving the rear bumper in the woods. Land Rover’s engineers dreamed bigger than a mere fixed-height suspension, and I’m not willing to regress. Another major system demanding immediate attention was the brake system— not just pads and rotors—the whole system. To start this tale of breaking brakes, my Discovery, like so many others, has graced me with the presence of the “Three Amigos,” the three warning lights – ABS, Traction Control, and Hill Descent Control – that, like a bellicose mariachi band, descend upon you unexpectedly and refuse to leave until you pay up. I’ve been ignoring them under the assumption that the likely culprit is the ABS system’s shuttle valve switch, which according to some sources is responsible for about 95 percent of Three Amigos appearances. The other five percent come from a failed wheel speed sensor or ABS modulator or simply from a wiring fault. Regardless, the presence of the Amigos means both traction control and hill descent control are useless, even if ABS still works, which it often does not. It also disables the cruise control. All of these features are nice to have in a 5,000-pound truck, so I drove it to British 4x4 Center, a Land Rover specialist near Hershey, Pennsylvania, for a proper assessment. Shop owner Trevor Griffiths scanned the truck to discover that it was indeed the shuttle valve switch, which meant a fairly easy replacement that doesn’t necessarily require opening up the brake’s hydraulics and thus having to bleed the system. Bleeding, though, was the smallest of concerns. I had already planned to replace the leaking master cylinder as well as overhaul the calipers and install fresh pads and rotors. The master cylinder was first as a matter of

necessity—the Disco failed the state’s annual safety inspection on the basis of a weeping unit, but the job took only fifteen minutes or so outside of the actual bleeding. Now that the Disco was again road-legal, the next step in the overhaul was preemptive maintenance on the crusty, aging calipers. The right rear rotor had developed a pulsing under load, possibly because one of the guide pins on that caliper had become corroded and was likely seizing on occasion. Having parted out a fairly clean Discovery a couple years ago, I happened to have a spare set of brake calipers hanging around. So while the original set was still on the car and essentially functional, I took the opportunity to overhaul the spare set before fitting them. Disassembling the calipers to the bare castings, I media-blasted the external cast iron to a clean surface, careful to block off the piston chambers and bleed holes. Once stripped, I chemically cleaned all the calipers to remove any residual oils. Next I heated them to 450 degrees F to off-gas any oils trapped in the metal. Once cooled, I repeated the chemical and heat treatments for good measure. Why all the fuss for calipers? While I certainly could have reassembled the units with fresh seals and hardware, all the effort to rejuvenate them would have been wasted in a matter of months. I had decided in advance that I wanted to powder-coat the calipers for a more lasting appearance. Using Eastwood Company’s dual-voltage powder-coat gun and benchtop curing oven, I shot the bare calipers with a unique copper vein coating, resembling the classic industrial Hammerite finish. This choice adds a little visual pop behind the wheel without, like red or yellow, looking out of place, and it doesn’t get lost like black or silver. With new seals and guide pins installed, the refreshed calipers were mounted to the


Discovery, along with fresh rotors all around and new Hawk high-performance brake pads. Before bleeding the system yet again, I also replaced the aging rubber brake hoses with new braided stainless-wrapped nylon hoses, an extra two inches in length in preparation for the eventual suspension lift. Now that the steering is once again tight, the axles are securely located, and the brakes are rock-solid, we feel comfortable moving on to our upgrades. Next up is suspension, followed by tires. After that we’ll start outfitting it for life outside of civilization. Follow the progress on where you can also enter for your chance to win the completed project at Overland Expo East on October 1, 2017.

“Like a bellicose mariachi band, the Three Amigos descend upon you unexpectedly and refuse to leave until you pay up.”

OPPOSITE PAGE Once blasted, the old calipers look as good as new.


TWO STEPS FORWARD, ONE STEP BACK 1959 Series II 88” + ToyLander 2 Christopher Holewski

Tackling two project vehicles while moving into a new house has been, to say the least, a struggle. Nevertheless, a few precious hours left at the end of my workdays have given me time to make some progress on both the Series II and the ToyLander. The Series II has already made itself at home inside my new garage, backed into position so its nose is facing the garage door. The first priority is getting the engine running, and I’ve removed the hood and both front wings for better access to the bay. For the components needed, Alloy+Grit has accepted the assistance of established British parts distributor Bearmach (, which is currently expanding its offerings stateside both directly and through a number of reputable Land Rover specialist retailers. Its catalog offers all the parts needed to bring my truck back to life, and the first shipment— basic stuff to refresh the ignition system (spark plugs, spark plug wires, distributor cap, 96

points, etc.)—began its way across the pond from England as Alloy+Grit went to print. While overhauling the engine, I’ll also need to address the first stages of restoration by draining and replacing all of the fluids, starting with the gasoline. The truck sat for at least five years before I bought it (likely more if I’m being realistic), so any fuel left in the tank is well on its way to becoming varnish. I’ll be draining the tank and using a chemical fluid to clean and de-scale the inside surfaces before relining it with a sealant. That way I’ll know, when I eventually start the engine, it’ll be getting clean, fresh gasoline. With the front wings off, I’ve gotten a better look at the frame and its expected rust— which thankfully appears to be limited to nonthreatening surface corrosion. A few hours of wire-brush work, a rust sealant and chassis paint should ensure the chassis remains impervious to further oxidation for years to come. I’m still hoping the truck will be running


and drivable, if not fully completed, in time for the Vermont Overland Rally, which my calendar says is an ever-diminishing 117 days away from the filing of this chapter. The ToyLander build is moving forward at a slightly brisker pace, despite my limited experience in the process. As I started reading through the instruction manual, it quickly became apparent I was in well over my head. However, a long-time friend of mine, Tom Minden, is a master carpenter and mechanical guru, and I’ve moved the ToyLander project to his house, where his more than adequate set of tools and skills also reside. We’ve committed to one night a week, each week, to work on the ToyLander, and so far things have been going well. It doesn’t hurt that his wife Cheryl is an amazing chef and keeps us happily fed long into our work evenings. In an effort to speed up the build process, we’ve deviated from the plans by using a braid nail gun instead of screws on every body panel. Tom assured me that the combination of extrastrong wood glue plus the nails would be more than sufficient. In fact, we discovered just how sufficient when we had to undo some pieces that we had nailed and glued together: The glue worked so well that the panel broke around the joint; the glue itself remained intact. One significant challenge with building the ToyLander has been what’s best described as “lost in translation.” Even though I’m familiar with boots, wings, bonnets and such, the instructions were sometimes as inscrutable as Sanskrit. Adding to the frustration, all of the plans and instructions were, of course, created with metric measurements. While Siri has dutifully converted millimeters to inches and vice versa as we work, I would strongly encourage anyone building their own ToyLander to spend the $7 to get a metric tape measure; it’ll save you a ton of time and mathinduced brain pain. Finally, I’m sure you’ve heard the adage “measure twice, cut once.” Of course, it doesn’t matter how many times you measure if your cuts are slightly off. We were making great progress and excited to get to the point of attaching the outer side panels to the body. Our amalgamation of plywood and glue was beginning to look like a mini Land Rover! We attached the passenger-side panel to the tub, and everything fit into place just perfectly. But when we flipped the entire body onto its

side to attach the driver-side body panel, we noticed it wasn’t lining up. It appeared to be a quarter inch too long. We retraced all our cuts and dimensions, measuring every interval and distance, comparing the right side of the body to the left. We finally realized the problem: While cutting the floor pan for the ToyLander, I had accidentally cut one length at a very slight angle. Imperceptible to the naked eye and easily missed during the initial phases of our build, it turned out to be a significant mistake, as all of the other body panels build up from the floor pan. That single piece acts as the cornerstone for the entire body. Only six panels removed from the floor


pan, the slight discrepancy had already caught up with us, and the entire body was clearly not square. Falling back on Tom’s years of experience and skill, we were able to compensate for my mistake in a way that will be imperceptible once the build is complete, and we once again have a perfectly square body. With just a few more panels to assemble on the body, we’ll be getting into paint in the coming weeks, and then on to the mechanical portion of the build. It feels good to making some headway on both these projects. You can follow along on and check out the progress before the next update in the fall issue of the magazine.


1993 – 1997: Jungle Fever? When it came to enticing American buyers, Land Rover got cheeky while playing up the Defender’s reputation as a vehicle suited for life in the world’s most remote corners. 98

Alloy+Grit Summer 2017 Full  

Alloy+Grit Magazine, Summer 2017

Alloy+Grit Summer 2017 Full  

Alloy+Grit Magazine, Summer 2017